By Toni McAllister, Patch Staff
INLAND EMPIRE, CA — Crews brought containment on the massive El Dorado Fire to 63 percent by Wednesday night, but thousands of evacuations were in place with 26,031 structures still threatened, fire officials said.
The “very dynamic” blaze had consumed 18,506 acres and injured 12 people, officials reported. More than 1,300 firefighting personnel are assigned to the blaze that has destroyed four homes and six outbuildings. It has damaged two other homes and six outbuildings, Cal Fire said.
“… great work by firefighting resources assigned to the El Dorado Fire continued today,” officials said Wednesday night. “The fire slowly backed down at low intensity into a retardant line placed along Hwy. 38 in the vicinity of Angelus Oaks. Ground crews were able to directly attack the fire utilizing hose lines to protect the community.”
A high-pressure weather system was in place Wednesday, causing hot and dry conditions, according to Cal Fire.
Evacuation orders remained in effect for: Mountain Home Village, Forest Falls, Angelus Oaks and Seven Oaks. Big Bear residents are not under evacuation but are asked to remain alert and watch updated orders.
Fire officials are asking evacuated residents to remain patient as crews continue to work in their neighborhoods. A Red Cross evacuation center is located at the Redlands East Valley High School, 31000 E. Colton Ave. in Redlands. Highway 38 is closed between Bryant St. to the south and Onyx Summit to the north.
Smoke from the El Dorado, Bobcat and Valley fires is impacting Inland Empire air quality. A Daily Smoke Report issued by the Wildland Fire Air Quality Program is available, and residents can also visit www.airnow.gov for air quality updates in their area. Most of Riverside County is forecast to have unhealthful air quality on Wednesday, officials said.
Cal Fire officials said the brusher was sparked Sept. 5 by a smoke-emitting firework used at a gender-reveal gathering of family members at El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa. Record heat and dry conditions helped the fire quickly spread north to the Yucaipa Ridge, fire officials said.
The Desert Sun reported that the family who planned the small gathering was cooperating with authorities and that no charges have been filed yet.
Fire officials told the publication that the family called 911 after trying to extinguish the blaze themselves. They remained on the scene until firefighters arrived according to the report.Cal Fire Capt. Bennet Milloy said the blaze remains under investigation.
“Those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially responsible and criminally responsible,” CalFire officials said Sunday.
Milloy said investigators are testing the mechanism used at the family gathering to see if it’s considered a “safe and sane” firework. But he said “safe and sane” pyrotechnic devices are illegal in Yucaipa.
For more information about fire updates, call CJ Suppression at 888-821-2334 or visit the website at www.cjsuppression.com.
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