'Southern California is ready to burn' as Central Valley fires expand

Grass and oak trees burn during the Basin Fire in the Sierra National Forest in Fresno County, California, June 27, 2024. A trio of wildfires, named the "June Lightning Complex Fire," in the county have burned 7,002 acres (2834 hectares), and together are 15 percent contained, with evacuation orders in place by Cal Fire authorities. (Photo by David SWANSON / AFP) (Photo by DAVID SWANSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Grass and oak trees burn during the Basin fire in the Sierra National Forest in Fresno County. (David Swanson / AFP via Getty Images)

Nearly 200 San Bernardino and Riverside County firefighters responded Sunday to a blaze that had consumed hundreds of acres and threatened buildings in Fontana — the latest in a string of fires to hit Southern California.

The fire spanned 400 acres and was at 80% containment just after 9 p.m. according to Eric Sherwin, public information officer for the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

Meanwhile farther north, in Fresno County, the Basin fire was one of the two largest fires in the state, which continued to grow just as brutal temperatures were expected in inland parts of California this week.

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The Fontana fire, dubbed the Sierra fire, was first reported around 2:30 p.m. near Sierra and Jurupa avenues south of the 10 Freeway. The fire was driving up the slope of a hill and buoyed by a breeze once it reached the top, Sherwin said.

Although there was no damage reported Sunday, officials had warned that structures could be threatened but stopped short of calling for evacuations. By late Sunday, the structure threat was "mitigated" and firefighters remained on the scene to reinforce containment lines, according to Sherwin.

Two firefighters were transported to a local hospital for minor injuries, he said.

The cause of the fire is still unknown. Sherwin urged caution amid record-high temperatures in parts of the state where dried-out grass could easily ignite and spread. A spark from a lawnmower could be enough to start a brush fire, he said.

"Southern California is ready to burn. These fires are everywhere," he said. "Everything we can do to prevent a fire from starting is one less fire that has the potential to threaten homeowners."

On Saturday, a fire broke out in Moreno Valley in Riverside County and scorched more than 200 acres. By Sunday, there were a dozen fires burning across the state, according to Cal Fire.

The largest of the blazes were in Fresno County, where the Basin fire that ignited on Wednesday had destroyed nearly 12,000 acres by Sunday night and had not been contained, according to Cal Fire.

Also in the Central Valley, the Fresno June Lightning Complex fire, which started Monday, had scorched more than 10,600 acres, according to Cal Fire's latest update. Officials had contained 61% of that fire as of Sunday night.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.