Southern California Blue Cut wildfire destroys nearly 100 homes

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif., Aug. 20 (UPI) — The Blue Cut fire ravaging Southern California’s Cajon Pass has destroyed nearly 100 homes and more than 200 other buildings, officials said.

The blaze ignited Tuesday off Interstate 15 near San Bernardino, west of Los Angeles. By Friday evening the fire had grown to 37,020 acres, or 57 square miles.

Some evacuation orders were lifted Friday, allowing some of the 82,000 people facing mandatory orders to return to their homes.

The flames are now more than 40 percent contained, up from 26 percent Friday afternoon. No deaths have been reported, but the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is continuing to account for all local residents.

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“The crews are still working to determine that everyone made it out safe and there were no fatalities in this fire,” said Daniel Berlant, Cal Fire public information officer.

Nearly 34,500 buildings are still threatened by the fast-moving fire which is being fed by extreme drought conditions, wind and heat.

“[The flames] are moving just as fast as the wind can push them and that’s leading to what we’re seeing in terms of devastation,” said wildfire expert Char Miller.

San Bernardino County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig noted the unpredictability of the flames makes the blaze a difficult one to battle.

“We know there are going to be people who are going to come home to nothing in a fire like this that seemed to burn at will and jump literally a half-mile ahead of itself,” he said.

More than 1,500 people are working to put out the flames. The U.S. Forest Service’s website lists 275 fire engines, 32 bull dozers, 26 water tenders, 10 air tankers and 14 helicopters on the scene.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

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