Southern California

Wildfire in San Bernardino National Forest Chars 16,000 Acres

Firefighters battled a wildfire in the wilderness of Southern California to a stalemate through Saturday night, maintaining 15 percent containment while it swelled to 16,000 acres, according to national forest officials.

The more than 23-square-mile blaze, referred to as the Lake Fire, has been burning in the San Bernardino National Forest officials since Wednesday afternoon. The latest figures, released by a command team that includes Cal Fire and county fire and sheriff officials, show that the fire has grown modestly, by 2,000 acres overnight.

About 500 structures are threatened by the fire, and several communities and campgrounds have been evacuated. Highway 38 was shut between Angelus Oaks and Lake Williams, officials said.

The fire was visible from space, producing a huge plume of smoke that the National Weather Service said was seen in Northern Arizona.

The smoke drifted to the Morongo Valley and Pioneertown areas. Fire officials said there were no evacuation orders for these area as of Saturday night.

More than 1,800 firefighters were on the scene of the Lake Fire, in the Barton Flats area near the resort town of Big Bear, which has not been affected.

Helicopters attacked the fire from the air overnight, officials said, and 90 fire engines and five firefighting planes have been used to fight the fire. Its cause is still under investigation.

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for high temperatures through Sunday evening because of strong high pressure aloft. Mountain temperatures were predicted to range from 90 degrees at 6,000-foot elevations to 100 degrees at 3,000 feet. Humidity levels were low, which makes vegetation easier to burn.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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