Fire Burns Homes, Threatens SoCal Ski Resort

Firefighters making plans to save Wrightwood

By Michelle Wayland
|  Sunday, Oct 4, 2009  |  Updated 4:49 PM PDT
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Fire Burns Homes, Threatens SoCal Ski Resort

AP

Firefighters work to protect homes.

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A wind-whipped wildfire has forced residents to flee, burned 3,500 acres, destroyed three homes and threatens hundreds more near the Wrightwood ski resort in the San Bernardino Mountains.

The Sheep fire broke out Saturday near Lytle Creek, a small community surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest. Fueled by thick timber and brush, the fire pushed over hills and canyons by winds reaching 45 mph.

4,000 to 6,000 residents were ordered to evacuate from remote canyons in Wrightwood, some taking horses and pets with them.

Firefighters were making a stand in the mountain resort community of Wrightwood, which contains a mix of full-time residences and vacation homes, spreading fire retardant gel to structures to protect them from advancing flames.

Erratic winds and low visibility have grounded firefighting aircraft and were expected to worsen.

"We're seeing low pressure over the state of Nevada and high pressure off the California coastline, exacerbating the wind problem as the winds blows through the mountain passes and canyons," National Weather Service forecaster Stan Wasowski said.

The fire was 10 percent contained Sunday; at least 200 homes remained threatened. No injuries were reported.

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