Southern California devastation

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By Khai Le

The Little Mountain hillside was among the many fires plaguing Southern California since Santa Ana Winds picked up Oct. 21. (Khai Le)

By Khai Le

Firefighters battled to contain the Little Mountain fire threatening nearby homes near the San Bernardino hillside on Oct. 22.

The fire started around 1:30 p.m. in the Little Mountain area and consumed over 600 acres.

According to Steve Tracy, spokesman for the San Bernardino Fire Department, the fire had zero percent containment as of 3:30 p.m. that day.

Firefighters started backfiring late in the afternoon and continued throughout the night until the threat to nearby residents was gone.

Backfiring is a tactic where a controlled fire is lit ahead of the main fire to contain and starve it off.

Among the firefighters backfiring were San Bernardino City fire stations number 221, 223, 231 and 232. The firefighters had been working since the morning of Oct. 22, traveling throughout the region where other nearby fires still burned.

The firefighters arrived at Shandin Hills Middle School in San Bernardino and set up their base of operations, called the Incident Command Post. From there, each of the station’s trucks were sent to different parts of the hillside approximately a block away from each other.

The hillside, bordered with residential houses, had parts of the fire only 25-50 feet away from backyard fences. The station’s trucks parked in the neighborhood cul-de-sacs and proceeded through the backyard gates of houses to the fire.

The next few hours consisted of firefighters using fusees, devices similar to road flares, to light areas along a path surrounding the hillside. When the two fires would meet, the dry brush that fuels them is eventually consumed and put out using fire hoses.

During the evening, residents were seen all throughout the neighborhood. Some residents sat in lawn chairs, observing the firefighters in action. Residents were calm and worry-free, entrusting the safety of their belongings and homes to the firefighters.

A firefighter lugs a hose to various areas of the Oct. 22 Little Mountain fire. The hoses- long, heavy, and leaky – required a 2-3 person team to carry them. (Khai Le)

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