Vancouver’s air quality affected as several wildfires rage across country
VICTORVILLE – Firefighters battled a large wildfire burning nearly 20 miles from San Francisco to the east on Wednesday, and they said the smoke would likely spread to other parts of Southern California due to strong winds blowing it eastward.
The Rim fire, as much as 10,000 acres in size, began Wednesday in remote areas in the Tehachapi mountains. As of 5 p.m., the blaze had grown to more than 7,200 acres, according to San Bernardino County Fire Chief Jim Moore.
The flames were reported at several locations, including the small community of Loma Rica. The fire had burned more than a half-mile wide and is being fanned by the strong Santa Ana winds, which have been recorded at more than 80 mph in the past two days, said Fire Chief Steve Harris.
The flames were visible from Interstate 15 in Santa Barbara County, but they were not visible from Interstate 680, which bisects the area.
The Rim fire grew to more than 60,000 acres in size by Thursday morning, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. It remains out of control as of late Thursday, and officials are concerned about its growth and the proximity to communities and major highways.
A state fire marshal said at least 1,400 structures, including homes, have been destroyed or damaged by the fire, the largest in California since the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989.
“The largest wildfire in California’s history has broken out over a ridge line in the Santa Ana mountains,” Gov. Jerry Brown said. “It’s gone on as long as it’s been going. It’s going to be a long haul ahead.”
Moore described the fire as an area with steep hills and narrow canyons, and said it could take weeks or months to fight. On Wednesday, firefighters were struggling to contain the fire as strong winds blew smoke over Interstate 15 near Loma Rica, in Santa Barbara County and as far east as Santa Monica.
As firefighters battled the flames Wednesday, an evacuation order remained in place for several homes near Loma Rica. About 10 homes burned down Wednesday, with at least one that burned by the time firefighters arrived, Moore said.
The Rim fire is moving in a direction that is likely to blow it directly towards major highways in Ventura County, officials said.