Pilot Fire Expands to 12 Square Miles, Schools Closed Due to Smoke

Schools in the Apple Valley and Oro Grande school districts will remain closed Wednesday due to poor air quality caused by the Pilot Fire, which has burned through 12 square miles in the San Bernardino Mountains.

The schools in Apple Valley school district were open Monday, but as air quality deteriorated and wind patterns shifted, the school district decided to close all schools, programs and offices Tuesday.

"We know that this may pose a hardship to many families, however in the interest of the health of our students and staff, school will be closed tomorrow. We encourage everyone to stay indoors and we thank you for your patience as we work together to ensure the safety of our students," the district announced in a news release.

The Hesperia Unified School District also closed its schools Tuesday.

A smoke advisory remained in effect through Wednesday morning.

Firefighters feared shifting winds and abundant fuel made the Pilot Fire a "blowtorch" in the San Bernardino Mountains as mandatory evacuations were expanded Monday. Containment was at 6 percent.

The San Bernardino County Fire Department ordered mandatory evacuations:

  • The entire community of Deer Lodge Park. Also included is Aleutian Drive, Klondike Drive, Evergreen Lane and Yukon Drive
  • Highway 173 north and south from Highway 138 to Arrowhead Lake Road
  • Arrowhead Lake Road to Hesperia Lakes Road

Voluntary evacuations:

  • Hesperia east of Santa Fe Road, south of Ranchero Road to Arrowhead Lake Road and north of the Spillway.
  • Areas east of the Mojave River and south of Rock Springs Road to Kiowa Road in Hesperia.
  • In Lake Arrowhead, the community of Grass Valley Lake in addition to the area north of Peninsula and North Bay Roads to Highway 173, and south of Highway 173 from North Bay Road to Grass Valley Road.

Road closures:

  • Highway 173 between Highway 138 and Arrowhead Lake Road in Hesperia
  • Arrowhead Lake Road at Ranchero Road in Hesperia
  • Highway 173 at North Bay Road in Lake Arrowhead
  • Grass Valley Road at Brentwood Drive in Deer Lodge Park
  • Forest Service Roads 2N33, 2N17X, 2N36, 2N37

Deer Lodge Park area, in addition to the evacuation of the entire area south of Ranchero Road from Santa Fe Avenue to Lake Arrowhead Road in Hesperia.

The Summit Valley area east of Cedar Springs Dam was also evacuated, as well as areas around Highway 138 and Old Mill Road, and around Highway 138 and State Route 173.

The blaze broke out Sunday and has blackened more than 7,700 acres north of San Bernardino. It was 5 percent contained as of Monday afternoon, and no homes had been lost to the blaze, San Bernardino National Forest officials said.

The Pilot fire also caused air quality problems throughout the region, prompting a smoke advisory. Air quality was considered unhealthy for the Central San Bernardino Mountains, including the Arrowhead Highlands and Running Springs, according to an Air Quality Management District map.


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Voluntary evacuations were ordered for an area east of Lake Arrowhead Country Club that includes Golf Course Road east to North Bay Road, and Penninsula Drive north to Highway 173.

The entire area north of Lake Arrowhead was also under a voluntary evacuation, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said.

Air tankers continued their assault on the fire, painting the dry brush with a pink, powdered fire retardant.

Hundreds of San Bernardino County Firefighters were battling the blaze, which began Sunday.

California is in its fifth straight year of drought, leaving hillsides and other areas covered in brush primed for wildfires. Firefighters said the state could be facing one of its worst fire seasons on record.

A Red Cross evacuation center was set up at Oak Hills High School  at 7625 Cataba Rd. in Oak Hills. Large animals could be taken to the San Bernardino Fairgrounds at 14800 7th St. in Victorville. A reception and care center was set up at Rim of the World High School at 27400 CA-18 in Twin Peaks.

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