A massive Southern California wildfire, feeding on drought-stricken vegetation and consuming everything in its path, has expanded to nearly 47 square miles.
The Blue Cut Fire has been sweeping through San Bernadino County near the San Gabriel Mountains and more than 82,000 residents of the area have been ordered to evacuate.
The speed of the fire’s spread astonished those in its path. and bewildered veteran firefighters who fear the flames will only worsen. “It hit hard, it hit fast — it hit with an intensity that we haven’t seen before,” San Bernardino County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig said.
Battalion Chief Mark Peebles echoed that sentiment, saying, “This is not the time to mess around. If you are asked to evacuate, please evacuate.”
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in the area within hours of the Blue Cut Fire eruption, a move that typically comes after a blaze has grown for several days.
“There will be a lot of families that will come home to nothing.” – San Bernardino County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig
According to InciWeb, “There is imminent threat to public safety, rail traffic and structures….Please follow the evacuation instructions, as this is a very quickly growing wildfire. An estimated 34,500 homes and 82,640 people are being affected by the evacuation warnings.”
The following video clip offers an up-close and personal view of this California wildfire’s fury:
Fire officials are bracing for an immense tally of devastation from flames that are being fed by strong winds, dehydrated tinder and triple-digit heat. “There will be a lot of families that will come home to nothing,” Hartwig warned.
The Cajon Pass, acting as a funnel, sent winds that raced up to 30 miles per hour to help the blaze jump Interstate 15, said Michael Wakoski, battalion chief of the San Bernardino County Fire Department and incident commander of the Blue Cut fire.
Wakoski said that crews were battling flames in terrain so rugged it resembled crumpled paper, and that it has been nearly impossible to navigate the steep slopes.
He added that the fire’s behavior when it first broke out was the most extreme he’s seen in four decades.
“We got our butts kicked,” Wakoski said.