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Slide fire still causing "a lot of problems"

Lake Arrowhead:

Cooler temperatures and lighter winds helped firefighters make progress on the Grass Valley fire near Lake Arrowhead and the Slide fire near Running Springs and Arrowbear. By Thursday evening the Slide fire was 15% contained at 11,675 acres, though about 10,000 homes continued to be threatened.

Throughout the day, water-dropping helicopters and tankers focused on knocking down the Slide fire's southwestern flank to keep the fire's edge from moving north into the community of Arrowbear or back into Running Springs.

No additional homes were lost to either the Slide or Grass Valley fires, according to Mike Dietrich, fire chief of the San Bernardino National Forest. The Grass Valley fire did not grow in size Thursday.

But firefighters on the Slide fire were still focused on preventing the fire from consuming homes and creating anchor points to begin a containment line around the fire.

"There's still a lot of problems," said Randy Clauson, division chief on the San Bernardino National Forest, who headed the initial attack.

"We know the winds are going to switch and start coming from the other direction."

"It's still Southern California; it changes rapidly," Clauson said.

As they made progress on the Grass Valley fire, Clauson said commanders hoped to continue moving engines and crews to fight the Slide fire. Efforts to contain that blaze were complicated by a shortage of hand crews, bulldozers and air resources because of the competition from the fires in San Diego and Orange County. In the late afternoon, air-operations officials were also forced to ground several air tankers because of the dense smoke.

U.S. Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell visited devastated areas of Lake Arrowhead on Thursday afternoon after a trip to San Diego with the president. Standing on a hilltop surrounded by rubble, she praised the fuel-thinning efforts that fire officials say helped save thousands of homes.

"I'm very proud of the work our folks have done," Kimbell said.

As gas and power-line crews worked the mountain areas, San Bernardino sheriff's officials still had no estimate of when all residents might be able to return. People who live in Cedar Pines Park and Valley of Enchantment were allowed to return if they showed proof of residency.

-- Maeve Reston


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