2006-11-06 Fire in Rialto-Fontana area under control (By Michael Muskal)
Fed by strong Santa Ana winds, a wildfire destroyed more than 640 acres in San Bernardino County today, the latest blaze to rip through Southern California this fire season.
Firefighters rushed to Fontana near Rialto, about 60 miles from Los Angeles, this morning to fight the blaze that at its peak threatened to spread to a housing development.
Officials predicted that the fire would be fully contained by 6 a.m. Tuesday. By late afternoon, the fire was 30% contained and was considered under control.
Today's fire came just a day after thousands mourned five firefighters killed in the Esperanza fire that destroyed more than 40,000 acres and 34 houses, as well as forcing hundreds to evacuate.
Today's fire — called the Sierra fire for the street near where it burned — began about 7:35 a.m. No cause was immediately available.
Unlike the deadly Esperanza fire in rugged terrain in Riverside County, today's Sierra fire was on a flatter plain and threatened a large concentration of homes.
The Sierra Lakes Golf Course was nearby and a development of houses was within 100 yards. The fire was about three miles northeast of Interstate 15 and the 210 Freeway.
More than 200 firefighters and 50 engines were at the scene, said Steve Hansen, a spokesperson for the San Bernardino County Fire Department. Firefighters from Kern County and Loma Linda were among the units that responded.
The fire began in vegetation but spread south to a walled commercial lot used for the assembly and storage of wooden pallets.
A barricade of firetrucks protected the homes across from the pallet yard. Residents watched the battle to contain the blaze.
"It's very scary," said Sue DeSilva, who lives in the Sierra Lakes subdivision across the road from the fire. "There are so many houses. If it comes to this side, it would just go from one house to another."
Catherine Curtis, 44, was taking her children to school when she saw the fire and plumes of smoke near the highway.
"They were very frightened," said Curtis, who works at a Target distribution center that employs about 700 people.
"But I said we don't have to worry about our safety. The worse that could happen is the house burns down — but everything can be replaced."
The fire started north of the homes and golf course near the 15 Freeway and blew south in the direction of Sierra Lakes, a development of half-million-dollar homes, said Fontana Mayor Mark Nuaimi.
Exploding propane tanks in the pallet yard sent debris across Sierra Avenue, but no damage to the homes was reported, he said.
"It's a bunch of wood with a bunch of propane tanks exploding." Nuaimi said.
The fire comes as authorities issued a red flag warning indicating a high risk of wildfires. The warning means strong winds, high heat and low humidity. The warning covers the mountain and valley areas in Los Angeles and Ventura counties and in the Angeles and Los Padres national forests.
Goods pictures to see at: