YUCAIPA (CBSLA) – Firefighters Thursday continued to make progress against the pyrotechnic-caused El Dorado Fire, which has forced thousands of people to flee.
The fire burning in Yucaipa and up in the San Bernardino National Forest was at 13,592 acres and 31% containment as of 10 p.m. Thursday, up slightly from 18% containment the day before, according to U.S. Forest Service numbers.
More than 1,240 firefighters are battling the blaze.
In addition to the earlier evacuation orders, new evacuations were issued Wednesday for Angelus Oaks and Onyx Summit after the fire jumped Highway 38 amid blustery Santa Ana winds. After the fire jumped the highway, firefighters were able to successfully protect several homes on Canyon Drive in the Forest Falls that were very nearly lost.
San Bernardino County Fire Station 99 Capt. Jeff Britton said his team will not give up protecting homes.
“If the public is counting on us, we’ll rise to the occasion,” he said.
Firefighters spent their sixth night fighting raging flames near Mill Creek Canyon.
“This canyon has not burned in recorded history, so it’s a powder keg,” Britton said.
Early Thursday morning, firefighters were able to keep the flames that flared up from spreading into some new areas further north, according to CAL Fire. They also secured the area around Mountain Home Village and ran hose lines between Forest Falls communities.
At least 21,000 people have been under evacuation since the fire exploded Saturday. Several homes have been destroyed, although an exact number was not known.
Scott Riley lost his home and several of the cabins on his family’s Oak Glen property, Riley Farm. The couple who lives inside said their dog didn’t make it out alive.
“We are very thankful for what was saved,” Riley said. “The fire just whipped into those banks and whipped up against the house. They made it out with very few things.”
The Red Cross has an evacuation center at Redlands East Valley High School. So far about 33 families have come through. However, they are not able to stay at the school because of coronavirus guidelines, so they are all given vouchers to area hotels.
“They came in, and they need a place to stay, I see families come in with really young children, and it’s just really heartbreaking what’s happening with this fire,” volunteer Nancy Acar told CBSLA Thursday.
The El Dorado Fire broke out at about 10:30 a.m. Saturday at El Dorado Ranch Park in the 37000 block of Oak Glen Road. It was started by a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device at a gender reveal party. A family was taking part in a gender reveal photo in the park, using pyrotechnics. One of the family members stayed behind and tried to extinguish the fire, CAL Fire said.
Family members could face charges including use of pyrotechnics and recklessly causing a fire, although officials emphasized that the investigation is ongoing. They could also be held responsible for costs associated with battling the fire and the damage caused by it.