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Sheep fire near Wrightwood grows, prompting evacuations

A wildfire in the Angeles National Forest reached 939 acres on Monday, prompting evacuations in San Bernardino County.

The blaze, dubbed the Sheep Fire, erupted Saturday night near Wrightwood in thick, dried vegetation, forest service officials said. By Sunday evening it had expanded to 775 acres and was burning toward Desert Front Road.

It was 5% contained Monday morning, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

The San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department has issued evacuation orders for areas near the fire, including Highway 2 south to Lone Pine Canyon Road; Wright Mountain Road to Sheep Creek Parkway; Desert Front Road and Wild Horse Canyon; and Highway 138 to Sand Canyon.

The rest of the Wrightwood community was on an evacuation warning, officials said. An evacuation center has been set up at Serrano High School in Phelan.

The blaze broke out just days after firefighters in Southern California warned residents that drought and extreme heat were creating conditions for a potentially dangerous fire season this year. A triple-digit heat wave blanketed much of California over the weekend.

“Given the fuel conditions, the fire conditions that we’re talking about here, I’m anticipating a very difficult four, five, six months ahead of us,” Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy.

Vegetation in parts of the region is 40% drier than normal for the date, officials said.

News video of the Sheep Fire showed intense fire activity, including towering lengths of flame and thick clouds of swirling smoke as it ripped through dried brush.

On Monday, crews were ready for a potentially tough shootout as winds of up to 25 mph were expected in the area throughout the day, according to Adam Roser, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Diego.

“We’re going to have another windier day up there today as the trough passes,” Roser said. Temperatures will be in the 70s and humidity levels around 20%.

More than 200 people have been affected by the fire, according to the forest service.

Meanwhile, crews were making progress Monday on another fire that broke out over the weekend, the Fish Fire near Duarte. This fire ignited on Sunday on Brookridge and Mel Canyon roads.

As of Monday morning, it stood at around 35 acres and was 18% contained, officials said. No structure was threatened and no evacuation order had been given.

Los Angeles Times

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