Environment & Science

Kendall Fire: Wildfire forces evacuations, causes injuries in San Bernardino

The Kendall Fire burns in San Bernardino on July 2, 2016.
The Kendall Fire burns in San Bernardino on July 2, 2016.
Photograph by Danielle Hobbs

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A small but fast-moving fire in San Bernardino burned several structures and left three people with minor injuries Saturday.

Update Sun. 10:45 a.m. - The fire has been completely contained and evacuations were lifted by 7 p.m. Saturday. The cause of the fire is being investigated. The San Bernardino Fire Department said it received multiple reports from residents who said they witnessed a person starting the fire. Battalion Chief Steve Lasiter tells KPCC's Meghan McCarty: "We’ve had multiple reports of different things that possibly occurred so we’re trying to sort them out to see if any of them have any validity."

Update Sat. 3:45 p.m. - Crews seem to have gained the upper hand and the fire is 50 percent contained.

Of the five structures that have been impacted by fire, four are potentially a complete loss. "At this point, crews are working their way in to get an estimate on what the damages are and to find out [whether] those occupancies are commercial or residential," Jeremy Kern a captain with the San Bernardino County Fire Department told KPCC.

Former fire fighter Ed Preciados tried to keep flames at bay until he was forced to evacuate. "I just saw the little flames coming up and they weren’t bad and I had a garden hose and I was able to handle what I wanted but then the water pressure was going down and then it went off completely," Peciados says. "When I left, everything was good and had I stayed there my house wouldn’t have burned."

Two firefighters and one civilian received minor injuries from smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion.

At about 1:12 p.m. Saturday afternoon, the San Bernardino County Fire Department began receiving reports of a possible brush fire in the area of Little Mountain near W. Kendall Dr. in the city of San Bernardino. 

Danielle Hobbs was cooking lunch with her mom when the fire spread up the hillside behind her home: "When I looked out the window I saw some ashes raining and then I started to smell fire. I told my mom I think there’s a fire and we evacuated just in time the fire was behind our house.”

Homes off of Skylark Dr. and Edgerton Dr. west of Pershing Ave. were evacuated. An evacuation center has been set up at 3900 N. Severance in the city of San Bernardino.

Kern describes it as a large urban community where homes and businesses meet brush and hillside.

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When the first engine company arrived on the scene, they found a half acre of brush burning on a hillside, Kern said.

The fire quickly elevated to a third-alarm assignment and multiple crews from around region arrived to help fight the blaze. Kern said a total of 120 firefighters are currently on scene. 

"At this point, we have multiple engine companies in place as well as our inmate and paid hand crews all working to establish containment lines and mop up the fire," he said.

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The cause of the fire is being investigated by investigators from the office of fire marshall.