Firefighters Attack Two Wildfires in San Bernardino County

The Sterling fire started Thursday in the San Bernardino foothills and threatened residences before shifting into a wilderness area

Firefighters are facing warm and dry conditions as they attempt to gain ground on two wildfires burning in San Bernardino County.

The Sterling fire broke out Thursday evening near Sterling Avenue and Foothill Drive in San Bernardino as crews in the mountains continued to attack the 46-square-mile Lake fire. Fire officials had to temporarily ground fixed-wing firefighting missions during both wildfires due to drone encounters.

Sterling Fire

The Sterling fire began Thursday evening and spread to about 100 acres before midnight in the San Bernardino foothills. About 30 homes were threatened at one point before the fire burned into the foothills and away from residential areas.

Tanker flights were temporarily ground Thursday evening after two reported sightings.

Areas in which firefighting aircraft operated are declared a Temporary Flight Restricted airspace (TFR). The order from the Federal Aviation Administration requires aircraft operators to be in communication with firefighting authorities.

No evacuations were ordered.

Lake Fire

The Lake fire in the mountains east of Los Angeles began June 17 and burned about 46 square miles by Friday morning. Mandatory evacuations were ordered for areas along Highway 38, east of Angelus Oaks to Onyx Summit, Barton Flats, Seven Oaks, South Fork, Heart Bar, Rainbow Lane, Burns Canyon and Rimrock.

Residents in other areas have been given notice that they should be prepared to evacuate. All hiking trails in the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area are closed.

Containment was at 19 percent Friday morning.

Crews were forced to land all fixed-wing aircraft Wednesday evening when a drone was spotted in the Onyx Summit area, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The fixed-wing drone, also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), with a 4-foot wingspan passed between two firefighting aircraft with about 500 feet of separation, according to authorities.

The operator was not located.

Calgrove Fire

The Newhall Pass fire known as the Calgrove Fire was close Friday to being declared fully contained. A pair of Los Angeles County Fire Department Patrol Strike Teams were handling overnight mop-up duties on the fire, which began alongside the Golden State (5) Freeway near Calgrove Boulevard around 1:15 p.m. Wednesday.

The fire consumed 415 acres and was 95 per cent as of Thursday night, authorities said. A firefighter was hospitalized with burns after tripping while he fought the fire -- the only injury reported as of this morning -- while the only reported structural damage was to a garage.

Hundreds of evacuation orders were issued Wednesday but later rescinded.

Four years of abnormally dry conditions have led to increased wildfire activity in California. Nearly 2,500 wildfires have been reported this year, compared with 2,030 by this time last year. The state's five-year average for that same time period is 1,654 wildfires, according to Cal Fire.

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