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400 homeowners told to evacuate in Yucaipa

August 31, 2009 9:00:57 AM PDT
A new fire in Yucaipa has forced about 400 residents from their homes. The Pendleton Fire started at 3:30 p.m. Monday near the intersection of Pendleton and Date streets.The fire is about a quarter-mile away from some of the homes. It has scorched more than 300 acres, and continues to burn towards the Oak Glen Fire, about a mile away.

Hand crews are trying to cut lines between the fire and homes below the hills.

"I'm very concerned because it's so dry back here, this stuff hasn't burned for a very long time," said Gary Dittmar, a Yucaipa resident. "I don't know which way the winds are going to go, if it shifts."

Because the terrain is so steep, firefighters can only stand by homes and wait.

"I'm confident. Firefighters have told us they can get it before it comes in our backyard and I'm hoping that's true," said Candy Humphreys, a Yucaipa resident.

So far, no homes have been burned in the Pendleton Fire.

The Oak Glen Fire broke out Sunday in northern Yucaipa. It has burned 1,000 acres and is 25 percent contained.

Firefighters are trying to prevent the wildfire from reaching the San Bernardino National Forest, where it could explode into a major disaster.

Fire agencies from all across Southern California, including Hermosa Beach, Fullerton, Santa Ana and Beverly Hills, are helping battle the blazes. Earlier in the day, 10 air tankers converged on the Oak Glen Fire dropping thousands of gallons of fire retardant on flaming hillsides.

"It looks like they're doing a really awesome job with the water drops," said Oak Glen resident Don Young. "We really appreciate the firefighters"

A number of structures are being threatened by the fire. Mandatory Evacuations are in effect for the south and southeast portions of Oak Glen and voluntary evacuations for the remainder of Oak Glen.

Young has been asked to evacuate six times but has stayed put through it all.

"It's my home, I think we have a lot of protection here," Young said. "We will leave if it gets dangerous enough."

Hand crews worked through the steep terrain trying to cut lines around the fire and were successful along Oak Glen road.

"We're trying to keep the fire from jumping Oak Glen road," says Captain Mark Miller with Cal Fire. "If it jumps Oak Glen road the fuel here is so heavy and so thick it's going to be a fire of epic proportions"

This area hasn't burned since 1924 and is being fueled by those 85 years of growth.

An evacuation center has been setup at the Yucaipa Community Center, located at 34900 Oak Glen Rd.

Large Animals may be taken to the Yuciapa Equestrian Center at 13273 California St. Those needing assistance with animals should call San Bernardino Animal Control at (800) 472-5609.

Oak Glen Road has been shut down between Chagall Road and Wildwood Canyon.

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