Homes burn, thousands flee as out-of-control brush fire burns 30,000 acres in Cajon Pass

A brush fire exploded out of control Tuesday in the Cajon Pass, scorching through 30,000 acres as walls of flame forced more than 80,000 people to evacuate and destroyed an unknown number of homes in several rural San Bernardino County communities.

Fed by strong winds, bone-dry brush and 100-degree temperatures, the Blue Cut fire marched across hills, canyons and flatlands into the night asfirefighters struggled to get a handle on a blaze they fear will get worse. Fire officials said there was no containment in sight. 

Residents in several communities -- including the entire ski resort town of Wrightwood -- were forced to flee as the fire spread in several different directions. It closed Interstate 15 and Highway 138 -- the two key routes in the area -- clogging traffic and making it more difficult for residents to evacuate. 

The blaze is the latest in a series of destructive wildfires to hit California as the state endures its fifth year of drought. The fires this year have claimed hundreds of homes and killed eight people, but officials warn the worst might be still to come because Southern California’s traditional fire season doesn’t begin until fall, when the hot Santa Ana winds typically arrive.

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