Inland Empire News

Mandatory evacs lifted for Yucaipa area

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Mandatory evacuations have been lifted for the two Yucaipa-area fires.

A 1,012-acre fire burning in Oak Glen is threatening thousands of structures, while a smaller fire, the Pendleton Fire, has burned about 860 acres. Fire agencies from all across Southern California, including Hermosa Beach, Fullerton, Santa Ana and Beverly Hills, are helping battle the blazes.

The Oak Glen Fire was 60 percent contained on Tuesday evening. Firefighters had the Pendleton Fire near Yucaipa 70 percent contained Tuesday.

All mandatory evacuations for both the Pendleton Fire and the Oak Glen Fire were lifted Tuesday night.

The Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified School District and the Snowline Joint Unified School District say schools will be back in session on September 2, following a day of closures due to unhealthy air quality from the nearby fires.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency in San Bernardino County. The governor made the announcement Tuesday morning as he toured the wildfire areas in Yucaipa.

Los Angeles, Monterey, Mariposa and Placer counties had already been declared wildfire emergency areas.

The governor is urging residents to heed evacuation orders from fire officials.

"All the residents listen carefully when law enforcement talks and they urge you to evacuate," said Gov. Schwarzenegger. "So many times we see people stay behind and they try to be a little bit overly courageous and then they get into deep trouble and get burned and get injured because of that so listen to it."

Schwarzenegger also re-assured local residents that the resources are there to fight the fires.

"It is important for everyone to know that we have the resources to fight the fires. No matter how many fires we have the money is available," said Schwarzenegger.

Many question how long will that money be available?

"There is concern at the local government levels of our ability to continue to send resources with the economic conditions that are occurring," said Alameda County Fire Chief Sheldon Gilbert.

"There was a flare up this morning while I was sitting down at the Wildwood Canyon Park. It looked pretty bad over the next ridge," said Yucaipa resident John McPheron.

The fire started at about 3:30 p.m. on Monday near the intersection of Pendleton and Date streets in Yucaipa as firefighters were battling the Oak Glen Fire.

The fire is currently burning east toward Wildwood Canyon Park. Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for about 1,100 residents in the Wildwood Canyon area.

Helicopters continued with an aerial assault Tuesday as flare-ups started to threaten homes near Date and Pendleton roads.

It was a sleepless night for many evacuees after being told to leave their homes.

"The wind was in our favor last night. It pushed it up and over the hill, unfortunately for other people. Now this morning the winds shifted and it's driving us back here. So it's been a restless night and we're back into it, in scare mood again," said one resident.

Yucaipa resident Ron Milv said he was taking out the trash with his daughter when he noticed the smoke.

"Within 10 seconds, it was already moving up the hill," he said.

Milv said they ran back to the house to load up their belongings when crews came to the rescue.

"They had five airplanes already flying over here. It was pretty impressive," he said.

Firefighters are trying to prevent the wildfire from reaching the San Bernardino National Forest, where it could explode into a major disaster.

An evacuation center has been setup at the Yucaipa Community Center, located at 34900 Oak Glen Rd. Large animals may be taken to the Yucaipa Equestrian Center at 13273 California St. Those needing assistance with animals should call San Bernardino Animal Control at (800) 472-5609.

Oak Glen Road has been shut down between Chagall Road and Wildwood Canyon.

There were no road closures to report for the Pendleton Fire.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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