A wildfire broke out Tuesday and spread at a staggering pace in every direction through drought-parched canyons east of Los Angeles, burning at least a dozen buildings – including some homes – and prompting evacuation orders for entire communities.


The blaze that began as a small patch of flame next to Interstate 15 in the Cajon Pass had scorched 15,000 acres of the San Bernardino Mountains. By nightfall, it had churned up and over ridges and was descending into the Mojave Desert.

“The smoke is on the desert floor,” said Eric Sherwin of the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

Snaking walls of flame rising 50 to 100 feet high turned nearly two dozen square miles of chaparral to ashes, along with outbuildings and homes in the ranchlands 60 miles east of Los Angeles.

“I can confirm that we’ve lost structures, both residential and commercial,” Sherwin said at the scene of a hard-hit cluster of ranches. “I’m looking up here and I’m seeing buses, I’m seeing outbuildings, I’m seeing houses.”

At least a dozen buildings had burned, including the Summit Inn, an historic diner near Interstate 15, he said.

Mandatory evacuation calls went out to 34,506 homes with more than 82,600 people, ranging for the ski resort of Wrightwood to the sprawling high desert town of Phelan, with more than 14,000 residents. (AP) [/restrict]