Fires Threaten Ice Castle Training Center


Sunday Morning, November 2

Fires appear to be under control and resident in some areas are beginning to return.  Mandatory evacuation orders should be lifted in a few days.  Problems in the Lake Arrowhead area now shift to mud and rock slides, blocked roads and the occasional looter.  No further updates will be posted on this fire.

Saturday Morning, November 1

No structures burned in the past day.  The fire is moving slowly towards Big Bear Lake.  Fire fighters are taking advantage of the weather to contain as much of the fire as possible before warm dry winds from the desert pick up in the next few days.  The fire is currently located in a relatively unpopulated area.

Friday Morning, October 31

No structures reported burned last night.  The fire is safely away from Lake Arrowhead for now, about 5 miles east of Big Bear Lake.  Rain and drizzle have helped efforts, but high winds in the area make this section of the fire still potentially dangerous.  Fire managers who seemed downhearted two days ago are more optimistic that this fire can be fully controlled in the week without further significant property loss.

Thursday Evening, October 30

The west flank of the Old Fire has not wrapped around into Lake Arrowhead from the west, and if conditions hold up it likely will not.  Winds have pushed the east flank of the fire towards Big Bear Lake.  Nevertheless, fires still burn on the east side of the lake and are moving around to the north shore.  This section of the fires still has the potential to move west along the south side of the lake.  If winds keep pushing the fire north as well as east, it may track north of Big Bear lake and spare most of the town which is on the south side of the lake.  Running Springs has thus far been largely spared as the fire diverted around the most heavily populated area of the town since Wednesday.

Thursday Morning, October 30

Major fire activity in Crestline and on the eastern side of Lake Arrowhead in the past 24 hours.  Fire to the west of the lake has moved more north than west, and is encroaching on city of Hisperia.  Fire on the east side of the lake caused heavy damage in the Cedar Glen area and threatens the hospital.  Fire there is spreading primarily to the northeast, away from the village.  Overnight conditions were cool with fog and some drizzle.  Increasing chance of rain in the next 24 hours.  Area south of the lake, which includes the village center, hotels, fire station, high school and training center all reportedly have have survived the night.

Wednesday Afternoon, October 29

Fire turned back towards Lake Arrowhead from the east today and began burning homes on the east side of the lake, about one mile from the village itself.  Fire also continued to move in from the west.  The fire is now north of SR 18 to the east and west of the lake, in terrain that offers fire fighters little opportunity to form defensive lines that would be needed to prevent the community from being crushed in a vise of fire.

Wednesday, October 29

After a day of optimism on Tuesday, hopes have begun to fade that Lake Arrowhead and the surrounding communities can be saved.  Advance of the fire into Lake Arrowhead from the south was stopped Tuesday and the east flank of the fire advanced to the east into a steep canyon between Lake Arrowhead and the village of Running Springs.  During the night fire fighters prepared to make a stand along SR 18 to defend Running Spring.  This section of the fires is an imminent threat to Running Springs, and if it crosses SR 18 could threaten Lake Arrowhead by wrapping around from the east in another day.

To the west of Lake Arrowhead, the fire advanced farther into Crestline moving to the north and east down the north face of the mountain.  The fire also jumped SR 18 in the vicinity of Twin Peaks, a cluster of homes between Crestline and Lake Arrowhead.  Crestline is likely to take serious damage today, and this section of the fire is now an imminent threat to Lake Arrowhead.  Winds today are from the west and are expected to increase during the day.  This will tend to push the fire into Lake Arrowhead from the west and make fighting the fire more difficult.  Conditions may also limit the ability to use air resources against the fire today.

There is some hope that an increase in humidity and perhaps drizzle or rain by Friday will aid firefighters, but it appears at this point it may come too late to save Lake Arrowhead.  Comments from fire and forest service officials suggest that a point may soon be reached where fire fighters will have to be pulled off the mountain and nature left to take its course, perhaps in the next 12 to 24 hours.

Tuesday, October 28

This morning fire fighters began to make a stand at Rim of the World High School to save the village of Lake Arrowhead. During the night the fire approached SR 18 and jumped the road in Rim Forest in several places, burning a few houses and businesses.  Efforts of fire fighters and shifting winds have since slowed the fire in that area.  Closer to Lake Arrowhead, the fire is less than 1 mile below the road.  This morning back-fires are being set from Rim Forest to Lake Arrowhead  on the south side of SR 18 in an effort to stop the fire from crossing at the high school.  In addition, fire retardant is being sprayed on the north side of the road.

Conditions have thus far prevented an aerial attack on the fire, but there are reports they may begin later this morning.  The fire is now less than one mile from the Training Center. Just beyond the high school and Training Center which are most immediately threatened, lies one of the older residential areas in Lake Arrowhead and the Village itself.  Winds are currently blowing to the south which is favorable for defense of the town.

Monday, October 27

Forest fires in Southern California threaten the Ice Castle Training Center in Lake Arrowhead, California.  One of several fires in the region, this one believed to be set by arsonists, raced up Waterman Canyon this weekend and quickly approached the town of Crestline, just 6 miles to the west of Lake Arrowhead.  Fires have forced residents from Crestline east to Big Bear lake, 20 miles to the east, to evacuate the mountains.

Since its outbreak, the fire has merged with another, larger fire to the west, and spread east towards Lake Arrowhead.  As of Monday morning (Oct. 27) the fire was about 2 miles from the Training Center and the nearby village of Lake Arrowhead.  At that time the fire was located south of Route 18.  Fire fighters appear to be planning to make a stand to prevent the fire from jumping north across Route 18, with fire retardant dropped in the vicinity of Rim of the World High School which is located just off Route 18 about 1 mile south of the Training Center.

If the fire crosses north of Route 18, the Training Center and the entire community of Lake Arrowhead face probable destruction.  The area has been stressed by several years of drought, and an infestation of bark beetles have left about 1/3 of the forest dead.  It is expected this region of the forest will burn explosively if ignited.

Winds in the region began to subside today and are expected to continue to calm further over the next day which will assist fire fighting efforts that up to now have been hampered by high winds that have fanned the flames and have grounded fixed wing firefighting aircraft.

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Copyright 2003 by George S. Rossano