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Red-flag warning in effect in SoCal; fires erupt in IE

January 13, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Firefighters were on alert on Friday, as many parts of Southern California were under a red-flag warning and wind advisories.

The winds, combined with a very low humidity, created increased fire danger.

A small but intense brush fire broke out in Fontana near the 15 and 215 freeways at about 9:30 a.m. Strong gusts blew the flames around, but firefighters were able to knock the blaze down quickly.

In San Bernardino, hundreds of firefighters were busy trying to contain a brush fire in Waterman Canyon that erupted Thursday at about 11:30 p.m. The blaze forced the closure of Highway 18 between State Route 138 and 40th Street.

Fire officials said a truck crashed over the side and caused a fire that spread to about 15 acres. The driver of the vehicle was able to walk away uninjured. One firefighter suffered an ankle injury because of the steep and rocky terrain, officials said.

Strong winds, gusting up to 40 mph at times, made for a dangerous night for fire crews.

"Firefighters really made a heroic stand out here holding this fire to the 15 acres under these conditions," said John Miller from the U.S. Forest Service. "The opportunity for this fire to grow to 1,000 acres was definitely there."

Crews through the morning to clear brush and snuff out embers to avoid flare-ups.

"We also have two air tankers and one helicopter on standby in case we do face any difficulties with this, or if we get another start," Miller said.

But mountain residents aren't out of the woods yet. It's been an extremely dry winter - the last time it rained was a month ago - and residents aren't taking any chances.

"Everybody worries about it that lives up here because it only takes a spark or a cigarette butt or something like that to set it off," said Crestline resident Sharon Roof. "We're all ready to evacuate ... always have your stuff ready to go."