Fire crews, backed with better weather conditions, began gaining the upper hand on the Radford fire south of Big Bear Lake, continuing to hold it to 1,088 acres while increasing containment to 59% as of Friday morning, Sept. 9, officials said.
Rain dampened the fire, helping to prompt officials downgraded evacuation orders to evacuation warnings.
“Crews and engines will continue to strengthen control lines and mop up to further secure control lines,” officials said in a morning update.
The Big Bear area received some early reprieve from the heat wave on Thursday thanks to cloud cover, reduced temperatures and higher humidity from Tropical Storm Kay — but that storm could bring “a variety of weather hazards over the fire through the weekend,” the officials said.
Chief among those is the potential wind gusts Friday morning, Sept. 9, that could reach near 50 miles per hour in places by mid-afternoon, officials said. Those gusts could cause fire flare-ups. Flash flooding and debris flows are possible into Saturday night, Sept. 10.
Rainfall, also anticipated in the afternoon, could help.
The Radford fire was first reported by a Forest Service helicopter during a lightning-reconnaissance flight around 1:30 p.m. Monday, and ballooned to nearly 1,100 acres by mid-week, officials have said. The fire’s cause remained under investigation.
It was burning between Barton Flats and the Snow Summit ski resort, coming to within about three-quarters of a mile from homes and cabins in the Moonridge neighborhood, one of the areas previously under evacuation orders.
Containment, the percentage of the blaze’s boundary that officials believe will not grow because of firefighters’ work or natural terrain, had been 2% for days — until being significantly upgraded Thursday and again on Friday morning.
More than 630 fire personnel were battling the blaze.
Areas with Evacuation warnings were open to residents only.
State Route 38 was reopened in both directions on Thursday. However, officials warned, motorists to avoid traveling the roadway near the El Dorado burn scar because of the potential for flash flooding and debris flows.
Because of the fire and the potential changing weather conditions, the Big Bear Alpine Zoo extended its closure through Friday.