Cajon Pass fire contained after burning three homes

The Associated Press
Monday July 01, 2002

WRIGHTWOOD – Firefighters gained full containment Saturday evening of a blaze that destroyed three homes and burned across more than 6,500 acres after being started by a car fire along Interstate 15. 

The blaze, which was burning in dry brush about 50 miles east of Los Angeles, has cost $2 million to fight, said Melody Lardner, a fire information officer for the U.S. Forest Service. 

Less than 300 firefighters continued to battle the blaze Saturday, which continued to burn on the perimeter of the fire lines. At its peak, nearly 1,100 firefighters, a dozen helicopters, 61 fire engines and two air tankers were needed to contain the fire. 

No estimate was available on when the blaze would be completely extinguished. 

The fire began Wednesday when a car caught fire on the northbound side of Interstate 15. 

Flames spread quickly through the dry brush and trees, eventually coming within five miles of the town of Wrightwood — known for its ski resorts and hiking trails. 

The fire temporarily knocked out power to nearly 500,000 homes and businesses and destroyed a total of seven structures but caused no injuries. 

Authorities on Saturday revised the number of homes destroyed from four to three and said four other buildings were burned. 

As firefighters began to get the upper hand Friday, residents from the sparsely populated Swarthout and Lone Pine canyons who were driven away by the fire were allowed to return home. 

Highway 138, which was shut down by the flames, reopened on Friday. Interstate 15 had reopened Thursday. 

A wildfire that spread Saturday in Lakeside, about 30 miles east of San Diego, burned 150 acres and by 11 p.m. was 50 percent contained, fire officials said. 

An evacuation was ordered for about 30 homes in Lakeside but it was lifted when the fire threat lessened, said Robert Ramirez, a dispatch captain with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.