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Sheep Fire and Silence of the Lamb

Posted by feww on October 5, 2009

Fire Chases 4,000 From Their Homes

Sheep fire forced thousands of residents to evacuate the mountaintop town of Wrightwood about 130km (80 miles) east of Los Angeles, according to state officials.

Having blackened 7,500 acres since Saturday, the blaze reached the outskirts of Wrightwood, a scenic resort town of 4,000 in the San Gabriel Mountains.

The blazed has destroyed at least 5 structures, but officials said they they could most probably save the town. The cause of the fire is still unknown/ undisclosed.

The fire containment, as of posting, was 20%.

Sheep fire LATimes
Photo: Smoke rises Saturday evening over the San Bernardino Mountains. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times. Image may be subject to copyright.

Details of Sheep Fire:

  • Incident Type:  Wildfire
  • Cause: Under Investigation
  • Date of Origin:  Saturday October 3, 2009 02:11 PM PCT
  • Location:  Between Lytle Creek & Lone Pine Canyons

Current Situation:

  • Total Personnel: 936
  • Size: 7,500 acres
  • Percent Contained: 20%
  • Fuels Involved: Chaparral and timber
  • Fire Behavior: Extreme fire behavior with rapid rates of spread, fire is fuel, topography, and wind driven
  • Significant Events:  Numerous helitankers and fixed wing air tankers dropped water and retardant on the fire yesterday and back fires were set to protect homes at the eastern edge of Wrightwood. The fire has not crossed Hwy 138 or Hwy 2 at this time.


  • Planned Actions: Crews are constructing direct fireline and numerous engine strike teams are in place for structure protection for the eastern portions of Wrightwood.
  • Growth Potential:  Extreme
  • Terrain Difficulty: Extreme


  • The Forest Service is in unified command with San Bernardino County Fire and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. Resources assigned to the fire are:
    • 24 handcrews,
    • 80 engines,
    • 4 dozers,
    • 7 water tenders,
    • 6 helicopters and
    • 9 airtankers (including the DC-10 and the Martin Mars).


  • All residents of Wrightwood are under a mandatory evacuation. Mandatory evacuations remain for residents in Swarthout and Lone Pine Canyons, Hwy 138 between I-15 and Hess Road, and residents on the east side of Lytle Creek Road including Applewhite Campground and Mountain Lakes Resort. Road Closures: Hwy 2, Hwy 138 between I-15 and Hwy 2, Lone Pine Canyon Road, Lytle Creek Road. Lytle Creek road is open to residents only.

Current Weather

  • Wind Conditions: 19 mph SW
  • Temperature:  45 degrees F
  • Humidity: 45%
  • Source:  InciWeb

Incident Overview [from InciWeb]

The Sheep Fire started near Sheep Canyon Road near Lytle Creek at about 2:11 pm on Saturday October 3, 2009. It burned northeast to Swarthout Canyon Road, then northwest up Lone Pine Canyon. It is currently burning near the top of Lone Pine Canyon near Wrightwood, CA. It has not crossed Hwy 138 at this time. The fire is about 1/4 mile from Hwy 2 and homes in the area. Firefighters are cautiously optimistic at this time about keeping the fire from burning into Wrightwood. Numerous helitankers and fixed wing air tankers dropped water and retardant on the fire yesterday and back fires were set to protect homes at the eastern edge of Wrightwood. Engines are also continuing to do structure protection and hand crews are constructing fire line.

Mandatory evacuations are still in place for all Wrightwood, Swarthout Canyon, Lone Pine Canyon, and areas along Hwy 138 between I-15 and Hess Road. Mandatory evacuations also remain in place for the following areas in Lytle Creek: Applewhite Campground, Applewhite Picnic Area, and areas east of Lytle Creek Road up to and including Mountain Lakes RV Park. Evacuation Centers are located at Eisenhower High School in Rialto and at Victorville Fairgrounds. Small animals can be taken to the Devore Animal Shelter. Large and small animals may be taken to the Victorville Fairgrounds.

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2 Responses to “Sheep Fire and Silence of the Lamb”

  1. M. Mane said

    I apologize for all the mispellings – just becasue you get yurself one of them fancy college degrees or two, does not mean you can write without mistakes – so feel free to slam my lack of spell checking – I do know the difference between “here” and “hear”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    GO RIGHTWOULD FIRE SAVE CLOWNSELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. M. Mane said

    Obviously I have a lot to say on this fire – but I will make it short. MANDATORY EVACUATIONS – oh yeah right I know the arguments for and against – the reality is mandatory should be MANDATORY and it is NOT. NEARLY 50% or more did not leave Wrightwood – if they left they were not allowed back in. The biggest threat of a mandatory – non-mandatory evacuation then becomes looting – admittedly harder in Wrightwood due to limited access. SO while I agree it is easier and safer to leave (even tough the probems of doing so are often a nightmare in an area with many animals and large and small and elderly residents – the law needs to be that everyone is evacuated – there is no choice. A few prompts legally to make this happen would be to cancel fire insurance for anyone who suffers a loss who refused to leave – impose criminal penalties – impose civil penalties for the extra added cost of constant patrolling of streets and knocking on doors. Bottom line is that 4 days in a Motel 6 with two dogs will make you insane. In reality letting people stay in a MANDATORY EVACUATION area is tantamont to allowing suicide.
    Should there have been an evacuation at all? In my EDUCATED VIEW – Absolutely not. I spent a year studying fire science / controlled burn technlogy and performing synological studies as part of one of my 3 degrees in environemental and natural resource sciences. The fuel reduction measures use in Lone Pine canyon did just what I expected – basically nothing – actually I believe the method made the situation worse by allowing large areas of invasive species to grow and create areas of fast moving brush areas in between the native old growth. The path of the fire, the terrain and the wind direction were all in favor of maintaining voluntary evacuation status IN Wrightwood if you were really scared. At any rate – I believe if one goes we all go – no matter what your view is on this.

    WRIGHTWOOD FIRE SAFE COUNSEL – I KNEW IT WAS A JOKE AND WAS RIGHT – Thanks for all the printed glossy guides and information (information readily avaialable anywhere else, FYI) and making sure we all knew…………..? Wait – what did I know from all of this wasted paper? and when I went to the website there was not a thing in regard to any current updates – SOOOOO I really can’t think of one thing! YES, DSL AND PHONES ALL WORKING so there was no excuse. THANK YOU to RIM OF THE WORLD WEBSITE for the updated information stream – they were the only site located that generated current by the minute information for Wrightwood and they are in LAKE ARROWHEAD! I would suggest the grants and awards given to the WW Fire Safe Counsel would have been far better spent or given to on funding for more fire equipment and water conservation and management projects to keep resevoirs full as possible.

    WILDLIFE NOW IN NEW PLACES: Well we now have a return of large deer to the Table Mountain geologic structure of town (that is the North side of Hwy 2). They have been repopulating easterly towards town slowly but now they are here! Woke up Sunday morning to a small herd of does browsing on our property – so along with the bear and coyote, bobcats and the occassional mountain lion – we now have the deer back. This gives hope that they will munch on some of the invasive species that have taken over everywhere mainly due to unwashed construction equipment (I think owned mostly by the County) that have caused mustard and russian thistle invasions to name a few all over town. I hope Cal Fish and Game and the ONE Ranger for this area who covers practically 1/5 the county can keep the hunters out of the neighborhoods.

    Feels good to vent – particularly watching misguided attempts at environmental management which is my profession. AND YES – I do not just bitch – I do something about it… so all this goes in the list of projects and issues – I will update when I can. PLEASE let me know what you think – PLEASE do not just slam – if you have good ideas or observations – let’s here em.
    Thanks all.

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