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Crews work to clear closed roads to Big Bear of snow and ice

January 25, 2010 |  9:01 am

Crews are working today to restore access into Big Bear Valley as local businesses and residents deal with snowed-in streets, empty grocery store shelves and dry gas stations.

Routes into Big Bear were closed Sunday because of impassable roads and tough weather conditions. Caltrans had closed off Highway 38, pushing a pile of snow to block the road at the Bryant exit. Residents were allowed up and down Highway 18, but trucks were turned away, making deliveries of supplies a challenge.

San Bernardino County spokesman David Wert said he could not remember the last time Big Bear had to be closed after a storm.

“What we had was a huge number of people who showed up with empty gas tanks and then emptying out the pumps,” Wert said, referring to Sunday.

But the worst may be over, according to the National Weather Service. Conditions were clear this morning, and a storm coming Tuesday was expected to drop about an inch of snow, compared to 2 to 3 feet last Wednesday night.

“Yes, we’re low on food, yes, we’re low on fuel, but my understanding is [supply] vehicles will be allowed in soon,” said Linda Goldsmith, co-owner of a ski and snowboard rental shop in Big Bear. “Everybody was loading up on fuel last night. There are some stations I know that are out. We’re not out of food yet, and most people can’t get to the store to buy it anyway.”

CHP officials said they could open the roads as soon as noon today, but the highways could be shut down again by 6 p.m. because of ice.

“Today is going to be about resupplying Big Bear,” Goldsmith said.“It’s a resort town. And in order for business to be as usual, you need the tourists. That’s what we’re all about.”

-- Amina Khan