'It Was Life or Death': Six Homes Burn in San Bernardino Fire - NBC Southern California
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Coverage of brush fires across the state

'It Was Life or Death': Six Homes Burn in San Bernardino Fire

At least six homes were damaged or destroyed in the Hillside Fire

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Daylight Reveals Damage From Hillside Fire in San Bernardino

    The first daylight video shows what was left behind when an brush fire swept through neighborhoods overnight. Meghan Reyes reports for NBC4 on Thursday Oct. 31, 2019.

    (Published Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019)

    Residents grabbed what they could and rushed from their homes overnight when a frightening brush fire fanned by strong winds swept through neighborhoods in San Bernardino. 

    Six homes have been damaged or destroyed in the 200-acre Hillside Fire, which began near Highway 18 and Lower Waterman Canyon. Whipped by wind, the fire burned downhill into several foothill neighborhoods.

    Its rapid spread, aided by flying embers, left residents with little time. 

    "I walked outside. My brother was walking up the street and it was right here, I mean right behind us," said evacuee David Palacios. "We were like, 'We got to go.'"

    Early Morning Hillside Fire Burns Homes in San Bernardino

    [LA] Early Morning Hillside Fire Burns Homes in San Bernardino
    San Bernardino neighborhoods were evacuated when the Hillside Fire broke out overnight. Mekahlo Medina reports for Today in LA on Thursday Oct. 31, 2019.
    (Published Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019)

    Nearly 500 homes and about 1,300 residents were in the evacuation zone. Some residents were alerted by neighbors.

    "He comes pounding on the door, trying to get us up," said resident Don Silver. "He knows we’re elderly and can hardly walk well. He came to wake us up and said there’s a fire. And when I looked out my patio door, that whole thing was on fire."

    Two homes on Saturn Court were burned to the ground. On Viento Way, several homes were destroyed or damaged. Just blocks away, firefighters were able to protect a home that had been evacuated.

    Watch: Hillside Fire Burns in San Bernardino Neighborhoods

    [LA] Watch: Hillside Fire Burns in San Bernardino Neighborhoods

    Aerial video shows several buildings, including homes, on fire early Thursday Oct. 31, 2019 when the Hillside Fire broke out in San Bernardino. 

    (Published Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019)

    "We took the kitties, ourselves and our cell phone, and that's it," said resident Susan Mercado. "The fire was coming through our yard. It was life or death.

    "I don't know how they saved our house."

    Mandatory evacuations were ordered for homes north of 50th, west of Highway 18 and east of Mayfield in San Bernardino. Pacific High School is being used as an evacuation center, the San Bernardino City Unified School District said. 

    By daylight, a modified DC-10 airtanker was making drops over the fire zone. Silver returned to find his home had not been damaged, except for some backyard landscaping charred by flames.

    Erratic winds are fanning flames as Southern California faces another day of extreme red flag conditions. Fires sparked in dry and windy weather can quickly spread, creating a dangerous situation for residents and firefighters.

    The strongest winds are expected Thursday morning, then will gradually diminish during the afternoon.

    This is a developing story. Refresh this page for updates.