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Cajon Pass brush fires force evacuations

August 22, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Two brush fires burning near the 15 Freeway in the Cajon Pass forced the evacuation of residents in the area on Monday.

The fire department ordered the evacuation of four homes at Matthews Ranch on Matthews Ranch Road. One mobile home at Matthews Ranch was destroyed, as well as two cargo containers and three small structures.

Silverwood Lake Park was under voluntary evacuation orders.

The fires began on the northbound 15 between Kenwood Avenue and Cleghorn Road about 1 p.m. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the Ken Fire has burned about 350 acres and is 40 percent contained. The Swarthout Fire burned about three acres.

Fire officials said they hope to have the fire fully contained by Tuesday evening.

Flames were reportedly jumping onto the freeway. Two northbound lanes were closed, but all southbound lanes remained open.

Caltrans advised commuters to avoid the area because heavy delays were expected.

More than 400 firefighters battled the blaze by land and air.

"I've had four fires up here. I was always able to get up here and do it, this time they blocked the roads," said Bob Matthews, who lost his home to the fire.

As firefighters searched for any leftover family memorabilia, Lisa Land was grateful to find her dogs.

"We just thought they were gone," she said. "A blessing from God. We went out there and saw our dogs."

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