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Hill Fire destroys 2 homes; evacuation order for 1,500 homes is lifted

Evacuation orders for 1,500 homes were lifted at 2 PM Pacific today for the Hill Fire, which is now 60% contained. Two mobile homes were destroyed and a third home was seriously damaged, as were two other structures. The wildfire is burning near the Cajon Pass community of Oak Hills. More than 1,158 acres were burned yesterday and today in California’s high desert. Firefighters are predicting 90% containment by Sunday evening, even though weather forecasts are for temperatures in the high 90s and winds of up to 20 miles/hour. Additional photos of the fire are here.

The Hill Fire began in the center divide of Interstate 15 near Highway 395 in Hesperia. The fire caused closure of I-15, which caused a traffic nightmare that lasted for hours. According to spokesperson Terri Kasinga, the north and south lanes of I-15 are now both open but may close periodically because of smoke or firefighting operations. Drivers who commute between Los Angeles and the Inland Empire are asked to take the 14 Freeway to the 18 Freeway, or the 14 Freeway to the 58 Freeway.

One of the people who lost everything in the fire was Bruce Schumacher, who was forced to leave his home and dozens of animals, including a number of dogs, a llama, three alpacas, goats, and sheep. He also lost his mobile home, his tractor, and his truck to the fire.

One firefighter was injured battling the blaze on Friday. Over 50 firetrucks, 18 air tankers, and 5 water-dropping helicopters were engaged in firefighting efforts today. The cause of the fire is still not known.

(Note added Sunday, September 4, 2011: This fire was 80% contained by this morning and is expected to be fully contained by Monday. All mandatory evacuations have been lifted. Residents are urged to limit their outside activities to avoid smoke inhalation.)

-Bill at

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