State of emergency declared as fast-moving wildfire burns in Cajon Pass

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SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Gov. Jerry Brown issued a state of emergency in San Bernardino County Tuesday as a fast-moving brush fire burning in the Cajon Pass caused evacuations and road closures.

The Blue Cut Fire started Tuesday at 10:36 a.m. near Kenwood Avenue west of Interstate 15. As of 8:30 p.m., the fire was 15,000 acres, 0 percent contained with 700 personnel on scene. Over 50 engines, eight crews, eight air tankers, two Very Large Air Tankers (VLATS) were aiding in the battle, Cal Fire reported. Additional firefighters and equipment on order.

The number of structures destroyed by the Blue Cut Fire was unknown, but aerial video showed several destroyed buildings with many more in the path of the massive wildfire.

“There is imminent threat to public safety, rail traffic and structures in the Cajon Pass, Lytle Creek, Wrightwood and surrounding areas,” Cal Fire posted on their website. “Two minor injuries to firefighters.

Blue Cut Fire (KABC)
Blue Cut Fire (KABC)

Mandatory evacuations were issued for West Cajon Valley from state Route 2 to I-15 as well as Lytle Creek, Lone Pine Canyon and Swarthout Canyon, according to the incident information page on the fire. Eighty-two thousand residents were under mandatory evacuation orders.

An evacuation center was set up at the Jessie Turner Community Center in Fontana, 15556 Summit Avenue.

State Route 138 is closed from SR-2 to Summit Valley Road, officials said.

The I-15 is closed in both directions from Interstate 215 to Oak Hill Road, and Old Cajon Road is closed from from Cleghorn Road to Kenwood Road.

San Bernardino Unified School District officials tweeted that the fire is not threatening nearby Kimbark and Paakuma elementary schools, but as a precaution, Kimbark students are being evacuated to Chavez Middle School, where they will remain for the rest of the day.

Aerial video from KTLA’s helicopter showed flames near a highway in the area as dark smoke rose above the fire. Flames were also burning close to railroad tracks in the Cajon Pass.

Several structures appeared to be burning along Swarthout Canyon Road, aerial video showed.

A red flag warning is in effect in the fire area, with a high of near 100 degrees and south winds bringing gusts as high as 30 mph forecast, according to the National Weather Service.

He explained that the weather conditions were a bad combination of high winds, high temperatures and low humidity as we are in the fifth year of an ongoing drought. The Blue Cut fire is exhibiting similar behavior to the recent Pilot Fire in the San Bernardino Mountains, Poole told KTLA.

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