WILDFIRE: Controlled-burn accidentally ignites 70-acre blaze, forcing evacuation (UPDATE 9)
The Mojave Desert Air Quality management District issued a smoke advisory for the Apple Valley, Spring Valley Lake, Victorville, and Barstow areas in response to what is now being called the River Bottom Fire. The advisory urges Victor Valley residents to take the following precautions:
- Keep windows and doors closed.
- Run your air conditioner.
- Limit time spent outdoors, avoid outdoor exercise.
- Keep your air conditioner’s fresh air intake closed and the filter clean.
An effort to reduce the fire danger in an overgrown riverbottom accidentally ignited a 70-acre wildfire that� forced the evacuation of an expensive neighborhood in the High Desert city of Apple Valley, fire officials say.
“One outbuilding, one vehicle destroyed,” Apple Valley officials tweeted. “Cause was permitted controlled burn in Mojave Narrows Park (by San Bernardino County Parks Department) when wind suddenly shifted.”
The blaze erupted shortly before noon Tuesday, March 31 — and spread quickly.
At the height of the blaze, fire officials fretted.
“This portion of the riverbed has not burned in years, so the vegetation is very thick,” said Tracey Martinez, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Fire Department. “It has gotten out of the riverbed…up to the roadway in some areas.
“Our biggest concern now is the wind: We have a lot of spot fires.”
Some 200 firefighters soon were battling the flames. Strike teams — each consisting of five fire engines — were positioned to protect nearby homes.
“These are big lots: half-acre and 1-acre lots,” Martinez said of the threatened neighborhood on the east side of Spring Valley Lake.� Homes in the area measure between 3,000 to 4,000 square-feet and are valued at roughly $600,000 to $1 1/2 million, she estimated.
By 8 p.m., crews had dug fire lines around 30 percent of the perimeter. And officials lifted the evacuation of some 25� homes along Riverside Drive between Riverside Way and Nokomis Road.
At the height of the blaze, the flames burned in two directions.
The southeast portion threatened the homes along Riverside Drive on the east side of Spring Valley Lake, Martinez said. The other trouble spot was in the riverbed.
Winds were blowing at 15 to 20 mph, with gusts to 25 mph.
The Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory for Apple Valley, Spring Valley Lake, Victorville, and Barstow.
The advisory urged Victor Valley residents to be cautious, “and use common sense to protect your family’s health.”
“Everyone, especially people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children, should limit time spent outdoors and avoid outdoor exercise when smoke is in the area,” the advisory cautioned.
Victor Valley residents also were advised to close their windows and doors and run their air conditioners.