Evacuations have been ordered for residents in Wrightwood, as well as the Desert Front area north of Wrightwood, due to a wildfire burning in the San Bernardino County mountains.
The wildfire, dubbed the Sheep Fire, has now grown to roughly 990 acres, according to a status update from the Angeles National Forest, and is still 5% contained.
“The Sheep Fire has grown to 775 acres and is 5% contained,” the update said around 4:15 p.m. Sunday. “It is burning toward Desert Front Road. Law enforcement is going door-to-door with a mandatory evacuation for Desert Front Road and Wild Horse Canyon.”
The mandatory evacuations for Wrightwood came as the fire increased in size, after evacuations were already ordered for the Desert Front area.
As of Sunday night, there was a new evacuation order for Highway 2 south to Lone Pine Canyon Road, Wright Mountain Road to Sheep Creek Drive, according to a status update from San Bernardino County Fire.
“There is a mandatory evacuation order in place for residents living in the community of Wrightwood,” the San Bernardino County Sheriff said in a Twitter announcement around 4:22 p.m. Sunday. “The evacuation order is for Highway 2 to Mesquite St. from Hwy138 to Sand Canyon.”
The fire has grown exponentially over the weekend.
State Route 2 and Highway 138 are closed in the area.
An evacuation center has been established at Serrano High School, at 9292 Sheep Creek Road, Phelan, CA 92371. The Red Cross is on the scene, officials said.
It was first reported near the town of Wrightwood on Saturday evening.
Though firefighters have been working to contain the blaze since it was first reported Saturday evening, the fire became more active Sunday, growing from 35 acres around 8 a.m. to 45 acres in the afternoon.
“The fire is becoming more active, with some torching / burning of trees in the interior,” a spokesperson for the Angeles National Forest division of the U.S. Forest Service said in a status update around 1:30 p.m.
“Crews are actively working along the perimeter of the fire, while fixed-wing operations have concluded for now,” the statement continued.
The fire is still burning away from the town of Wrightwood, officials said Sunday. Fire crews were on scene both on the ground and in the air, according to the Angeles National Forest.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Fuel moisture levels are well below historic averages in parts of Southern California, meaning vegetation is drying out more quickly this year. Dry vegetation is one significant factor in the spread of wildfires.
The state is coming of one of its driest late winters on record, leaving hillsides covered in dry brush.
California continues to face longer wildfire seasons as a direct result of climate change, according to CAL FIRE.
“Extended dryness originating from January is expected to continue into the spring with little precipitation, leaving most of the state in moderate to extreme drought conditions prior to summer,” the state’s firefighting agency said in a 2022 fire season outlook. “These continued dry conditions, with above normal temperatures through spring, will leave fuel moisture levels lower than normal, increasing the potential for wildland fire activity.”