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El Dorado Fire: Roughly 19,000 Acres Burned, Containment At 66%

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Big Bear Hot Shots wait for the El Dorado Fire to drop to a roadway before going to work. (Courtesy San Bernardino National Forest)
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This story is no longer being updated. Follow our coverage of the El Dorado Fire for Friday, Sept. 18>>

Yesterday's coverage:

The El Dorado Fire continues to burn in the San Bernardino National Forest, forcing evacuations of thousands of homes in mountain communities.

Here's what we know about the blaze so far today:

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THE BASICS

  • Acreage: 19,098
  • Containment: 66%
  • Structures destroyed: 4 homes, 6 other structures
  • Structures damaged: 2 homes, 4 other structures
  • Residences evacuated: 3,467
  • Structures threatened: 26,031
  • Personnel: 1,351 firefighters
  • Injuries: 12

The El Dorado Fire began on Saturday, September 5, with a bang β€” literally β€” when a firework from a gender reveal party in Yucaipa ignited a blaze that has threatened thousands of homes and caused the mandatory evacuation of tens of thousands of residents.

Forest officials said Thursday the fire has settled into a low-intensity burn, and is behaving similar to "an ideal prescribed burn."

"Low intensity fire that does not grow out of control benefits our wildlands and is actually vital to the survival of several species, which is surprising since fire is one of our greatest tools and one of our most destructive forces," officials wrote on the fire incident page.

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Firefighters successfully defended the community of Angelus Oaks overnight, which has been threatened in recent days.

The blaze reached Forsee Creek overnight and is still advancing toward San Bernardino Peak, aided by upcanyon winds.

To the north, the blaze appraoched Highway 38, and firefighters used the roadway itself as a fuel-break. Retardant lines dropped along the roadway were successful in keeping the blaze in check there.

Forest officials also had a message for residents who might be alarmed by what they're seeing north of Highway 38 on satellite imagery available online through Modis.

Modis is an instrument aboard the Terra and Aqua EOS Satellites and measure thermal and infrared detections. This can create confusion as anything emitting heat registers in Modis, including smoke AND fire-fighting equipment. What communities are perceiving as spot fires across Hwy 38 is likely smoke or equipment operating in the area. As of this update [just before 9a.m.], the El Dorado Fire has NOT crossed Highway 38.

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EVACUATIONS

Mandatory evacuations remain in effect for the following communities (detailed map here):

  • Mountain Home Village
  • Forest Falls
  • Angelus Oaks
  • Seven Oaks
  • Barton Flats / Jenks Lake Area east to Onyx Summit

A Red Cross evacuation center is open at the Redlands East Valley High School, 31000 E. Colton Ave.
Big Bear residents are not currently under any evacuation warnings or orders, but local officials there have issued a fire advisory, asking residents "to closely monitor the El Dorado Fire, and take appropriate precautions based on your individual circumstances."

CLOSURES

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CalFire Captain Fernando Herrera in his SUV along Highway 38 during the El Dorado Fire. (Sharon McNary/LAist)
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Highway 38 remains closed between Bryant Street and Lake Williams Drive.

The San Bernardino National Forest remains closed through Sept. 21 β€” along with all other national forests in California.

AIR QUALITY

The South Coast Air Quality Management District extended a smoke advisory through Thursday as unhealthy air continues to blanket much of the L.A. Basin and Inland Empire. It's not just local fires though; smoke is also making its way to us from wildfires in Northern California, Oregon and Washington.

Look up the latest air quality info for your area at airnow.gov.

CAUSE

The family behind the party where authorities say a pyrotechnic device was set off tried to put out the fire and called 911, but it was too late. They have cooperated with authorities, but Cal Fire spokesperson Captain Bennett Malloy says it's possible they could face misdemeanor charges:

"Some of the laws they could have broken: a public resource code where you cause a fire on somebody else's land, or, in California under a penal code, there's provisions for what's called recklessly causing a fire. And that may be the case with this fire, but that would be up to the district attorney to determine."

Prosecutors could pursue felony charges if someone is hurt or killed, or if homes are damaged by the fire. Though no charges had been filed yet.

HOW WE’RE REPORTING ON THIS

This is a developing story. We fact check everything and rely only on information from credible sources (think fire, police, government officials and reporters on the ground). Sometimes, however, we make mistakes and/or initial reports turn out to be wrong. In all cases, we strive to bring you the most accurate information in real time and will update this story as new information becomes available.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

For the latest information straight from local emergency officials, check the following websites and social media accounts:

FIRE RESOURCES

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