Blue Cut Fire 73 percent contained; 105 homes destroyed, official says

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Sunday, August 21, 2016
Blue Cut Fire 68 percent contained; 105 homes destroyed
Officials estimate 105 homes and 213 outbuildings have been destroyed in the 37,020-acre Blue Cut Fire, which was at 68 percent containment Saturday morning.

PHELAN, Calif. (KABC) -- Some evacuations have been lifted and overnight progress has been made on the 37,020-acre Blue Cut Fire, which was at 73 percent containment Saturday, according to officials from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Officials estimate 105 homes and 216 buildings have been destroyed since the wildfire began racing through San Bernardino National Forest Tuesday, forest officials said, and the massive blaze has continued to burn near the Cajon Pass.

A map shows the location of the Blue Cut Fire, which has burned thousands of acre around the Cajon Pass.

Mandatory evacuation orders for the community of Wrightwood were reduced to voluntary around noon Saturday, according to a press release issued by the San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Department. Residents were allowed past the road closure at highways 138 and 2 by providing proof of residency.

Residents heading back home said they were happy to go back to a more normal way of life after being displaced since Tuesday.

Late Friday, evacuation orders were lifted for residents of Phelan, west of Green Road to Snowline Road. The Lytle Creek and West Cajon Valley communities were still under evacuation as of Saturday morning.

Many were not being allowed to return home until damaged power lines are back up and running.

"I'm hearing rumors that we can't go back until the power is turned back on, but many of us are prepared for that with solar panels and generators and stuff like that, so I don't really think that's an issue, but we're getting very frustrated because we've been out since Tuesday," said Lisa Holtsclaw, a Lytle Creek resident.

An Edison spokesperson said there are more than 300 damaged power poles to replace, miles of wire to restring and a number of transformers to repair.

MORE: Full list of evacuations, road closures, animal shelters and school information

"Imagine everything you own being taken from you, and you have absolutely no control. There's nothing you can do," said Lisa Gregory of Lytle Creek.

The American Red Cross said it has 301 people registered between its Fontana and Hesperia evacuation shelters. But they have room to grow should the fire threaten more communities.

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A burned out residence stands amid rubble on Highway 138 after the Blue Cut Fire burned through Phelan, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016.
AP Photo/Noah Berger

Officials said Saturday morning 50 hand crews, 275 engines, 32 dozers and 14 helicopters were being used to work aggressively to gain more containment of the fire. Crews were also working to mop up all areas of the blaze in an effort to move toward re-population of evacuated areas.

I-15 is up and running in both directions, but traffic will still be impacted by intermittent lane closures as repairs get underway to the highway.

Gov. Jerry Brown issued a state of emergency for San Bernardino County, which provides more state resources to firefighting efforts and grants certain benefits to affected residents.

The cause of the fire remains unknown.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.