YUCAIPA (CBSLA.com) — A brush fire near Yucaipa has burned nearly 250 acres and officials say homes in the area are threatened.
While firefighters battle to put out the stubborn and fast-moving blaze, dubbed the Bryant Fire, authorities say dozens of homes remain in the literal line of fire.
KCAL 9’s Tina Patel says parts of Highway 38 in parts of Mentone and up to Big Bear have been closed.
“I saw the smoke and I said oh no, here we go again,” said one resident.
People who live in the San Bernardino mountain communities and foothills are used to brush fires. But they say it still makes them nervous when the flames start moving towards homes and populated areas.
“It’s scary every time we see smoke, because we don’t know which way it’s going to go, how much we’re in danger,” said Bill Jochimsen of Yucaipa.
Officials said 50-75 people in Yucaipa Ridge were evacuated Thursday afternoon.
Many ignored the warnings to protect their own property.
They got lots of help from the professionals.
“We see there’s tons of firefighters, there’s tons of different helicopters coming with smoke retardant. It’s helping out a lot,” said Amanda Bianchet of Yucaipa.
Even though homeowners know it’s been dry, they say it’s unusual how many fires have broken out recently.
“They’ve had quite a few fires around here, which is very suspicious. the hill over here was on fire, over in Highway 330 in Highland which is not far away, Mentone has had a fire. to me, to me it’s highly suspicious,” said Jochimsen.
Investigators tracked the origins of the Bryant Fire to a spot just off Highway 38.
Late Thursday, officials said they arrested 23-year-old Yucaipa resident Jarrod Samra as a possible suspect in the fire. He was arrested and taken to the Central Detention Center where he was booked on an arson charge. His bail has been set at $250,000.
Drivers who were stranded for hours had trouble believing the fire might have been set.
“I hope this guy pays for what he’s done. because all these people who are trying to get up the hill, all work, we’re just trying to get home,” said Rob Merritt of Forest Falls.
“It gets me very angry, all the people who could get their houses burnt, the animals that lose their homes, I get very angry,” said Sandi Spayd of Mountain Home Village.
Residents want to know if Samra might be involved in more of the fires out this way, but they told Patel they weren’t able to answer that question just yet.