Thick Smoke Billows From Growing SoCal Forest Fire | NBC Chicago

Thick Smoke Billows From Growing SoCal Forest Fire

Firefighters were working through the night to try and contain the blaze

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The blaze scorched about 11,000 acres by Friday. John Cádiz Klemack reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 19, 2015. (Published Friday, June 19, 2015)

    A massive wildfire blazing its way through mountainsides in the San Bernardino National Forest was being felt as far away as Arizona.

    The fire was burning over 17 square miles near Big Bear Friday, threatening about 150 structures, according to Lyn Sieliet, a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman.

    The blaze in the area of Jenks Lake in the Barton Flats was approximately 10,000 acres in size as of Thursday night, and it grew an additional 4,000 acres by Friday night. It was 10 percent contained, a five percent increase on the previous day, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

    The fire was dropping ash and hurting air quality in Joshua Tree National Park, the National Park Service said Friday morning, advising that anyone with breathing issues not to undertake strenuous exercise in the park under the conditions.

    The Lake Fire, as it's being called, has been burning timber and grass, and prompted more than 150 people to be evacuated. It was reported just before 4 p.m. Wednesday, and is burning east of Camp de Benneville Pines south of Jenks Lake Road. its cause is under investigation.

    Resources deployed include 88 engines, one air tanker, 10 helicopters, an air attack plane and 28 crews. In total 1,224 firefighters were working the fire Friday. The thick smoke foiled some attempts to attack the blaze from the air.

    The fire grew partly because winds gusted up to 35 mph Thursday. Winds pushed smoke from the fire east into Arizona.

    The plume was visible from space, according to NASA satellite imagery.

    Highway 38 is closed between Angelus Oaks to Lake Williams, and Jenks Lake Road is closed as well. All Hiking Trails into the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area have been closed due to the proximity of the fire to many hiking trails. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is closed from Whitewater Preserve to Onyx Summit.

    Twenty to 25 residences were evacuated on Rainbow Lane in the Onyx Summit area by Thursday morning, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

    Campground evacuations include 120 people from Camp de Benneville Pines, one person from Camp Ta Ta Pochon, 24 people from Camp Alpine Meadows, 23 people from Camp Edwards, and 10 people from Camp Tulakes. Children from the camps were bused to Citrus Valley High School in Redlands to be reunited with their parents.

    Evacuations also were ordered along Highway 38, east of Angelus Oaks to Onyx Summit.

    Wildfire activity in California is nearly double the average for this time of year after a dry and warm winter, according to CalFire. The state fire agency responded to more than 1,100 wildfires that charred more than 4,200 acres between the start of the year and May.

    Conditions are much drier than normal across the state, raising the risk of rapidly spreading fires.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.