Blue Cut Fire: 96 homes, 213 outbuildings destroyed, official says

PHELAN, Calif. (KABC) -- Ninety-six homes and 213 outbuildings have been destroyed in the Blue Cut Fire, an official announced Friday, as the massive blaze continued to burn near the Cajon Pass.

Since the blaze ignited Tuesday, it has charred 37,020 acres. San Bernardino County fire officials said they are still in the process of counting the number of destroyed structures, and the figures may increase as they get more information.

Firefighters made significant progress against the fire Thursday and overnight, bringing the containment to 40 percent by Friday night.

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

"Crews really buttoned up some areas, but the possibility is still there for explosive growth," fire spokesman Brad Pitassi said.

That concern was especially focused on an area southeast of Wrightwood, where old growth, brush and trees haven't burned in 70 years, fire behavior analyst Brendan Ripley said.

By Friday afternoon, evacuation orders were lifted for residents of Phelan, west of Green Road to Snowline Road.

Some evacuated residents east of Interstate 15 were allowed back home on Thursday, including East Oak Hills, South Hesperia and the West Oak Hills area. However, about 34,500 homes remain under evacuation orders.

Many are 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.

Hundreds of power lines were toppled all across the burn area. Southern California Edison crews are only allowed to do their work in areas where the fire danger has passed.

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.

Fire crews said the blaze tore through like a tornado, and they could do little to stop its destructive path. Officials have been telling residents to prepare for the worst.

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.

About 1,580 firefighters from agencies throughout the region were on the scene, but plans were in the works to begin demobilizing some of the firefighters by the afternoon.

Fourteen water-dropping helicopters are aiding the firefight, and additional air support was expected later in the day, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

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.
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