1,100 homes evacuated in smoky California wildfire

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (AP) — At least 1,100 homes and several schools were evacuated Wednesday as dry, gusty winds fanned a smoky wildfire in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains in California.

No structures were immediately threatened as flames moved along the base of the mountains just above residential developments in Rancho Cucamonga, a city of 165,000 people east of Los Angeles.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered and at least seven schools were shut down due to the smoky conditions from the blaze, city officials said.

The fire had burned at least 200 acres of brush that was sapped of moisture by two days of Santa Ana winds, unseasonably high temperatures and low relative humidity.

Gusts of 60 mph prevented firefighting helicopters from taking to the air, CalFire spokeswoman Liz Brown said.

“They are not able to get off the ground so we are fighting this with ground resources right now,” she said.

No containment figure was announced.

Classes were canceled at Los Osos High School about an hour after the fire started.

“We’re evacuating cause there’s high winds and there’s a fire right up there,” student Shane McHale told KTTV, pointing to the mountains.

Meanwhile in San Diego County, sheriff’s officials said a handful of residents evacuated their homes when a fire broke out in a riverbed near a golf course in Santee.

The fire was contained about an hour later, but another flare-up burned palm trees, and high winds kept the area in some danger.

Red flag warnings of high fire danger were posted by the National Weather Service for parts of Southern California through 8 p.m. Thursday.

The Los Angeles Fire Department beefed up staffing at 10 stations and imposed parking restrictions on narrow, hilly streets to allow engine access.

Temperatures well into the 90s were expected in downtown Los Angeles, and valley areas could see triple digits. High temperatures were expected through Saturday, with humidity in the single digits.

High winds are likely in the mountains and portions of the valleys, with peak gusts up to 80 mph.

Severe winds at Ontario International Airport caused some flights to be diverted to Los Angeles International Airport, City News Service reported.

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