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Fire in Cajon Pass grows to 350 acres; 15 Freeway remains closed

November 5, 2012 |  1:56 pm

The fast-moving brush fire in the Cajon Pass grew to more than 350 acres Monday afternoon, fueled by Santa Ana winds and high temperatures.

The fire triggered mandatory evacuations in the Mathews Ranch area and backed up traffic for miles, as authorities shut down the 15 Freeway, a primary artery from Southern California to Las Vegas.

Smoke could be seen for miles, and residents in the San Bernardino area reported on Twitter that the wind was carrying ash as far away as Fontana. By 1:40 p.m., the fire was 5% contained, U.S. Forest Service spokesman John Miller said.

The Devore fire broke out shortly before 11 a.m. near the northbound 15 Freeway between the Kenwood Avenue and Cleghorn Road exits.

Pushed by 10 mph winds, the fire was burning southeast in steep and rugged terrain, where it threatened several homes on Mathews Ranch Road and could pose a similar problem for residents in Devore Heights, Miller said.

A shipping container has been destroyed by fire, Miller said.

At least 200 firefighters were on the scene, supported by four helicopters and eight air tankers with more available if needed, officials said.

The northbound 15 was closed at Sierra Avenue. The southbound 15 was closed at Highway 138. The northbound 215 Freeway was also closed at the Palm/Kendall exit. Cajon Boulevard -- the old Route 66 -- was closed between Kenwood and Cleghorn.

Because the fire was shifting, authorities said, freeway closures are subject to change.

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-- Andrew Blankstein

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