Lake Fire, east of San Bernardino, California

(UPDATE at 10:53 a.m. PT, June 26, 2015)

map of Lake Fire
Map of the Lake Fire. Both lines show the perimeter at about 11 p.m. The yellow line is from June 24, while the red line is from June 25. (click to enlarge)

The Lake Fire east of San Bernardino, California grew by about 7,000 acres over the last couple of days. The incident management team now puts the size at 29,813 acres.

The fire remains active on the northeast side. On Thursday the fire made a push north to the Heartbreak Ridge area and east to Three Sisters Peaks.

Firefighting resources on scene include, 153 engines, 4 air tankers (including one DC-10), 18 helicopters, 4 support fixed wing planes, 54 hand crews, 18 water tenders, 8 dozers, and 2,116 personnel.

Mandatory evacuations include: areas along Hwy 38 east of Angelus Oaks, Barton Flats, Seven Oaks, South Fork, Heart Bar, Rainbow Lane, Burns Canyon, and Rimrock. A voluntary evacuation is in place for Pioneertown.


(UPDATE at 8:58 a.m. PT, June 25, 2015)

Late Wednesday night, June 24, the San Bernardino County Sheriff Department initiated a mandatory evacuation for the Burns Canyon and Rimrock areas.

Lake Fire map June 25, 2015
Lake Fire map, released at 4:15 a.m. PT, June 25, 2015. It is not clear what time before that the perimeter data was current. Note that the heavy black line indicates the only completed fireline. (click to enlarge)
Lake Fire Map 1210 am PT June 25 2015
Lake Fire Map. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 12:10 am PT, June 25 2015. The solid red line was the fire perimeter at 11 p.m. on June 23. (click to enlarge)

The map above shows the fire perimeter at 11 p.m on June 23 (the red line), and the red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 12:10 a.m. PT, June 25. This shows a large growth of the fire in the last 24 hours. The satellite data indicates more fire spread to the east than the official map. Friday morning the incident management team reported that the fire has burned 23,199 acres.


(UPDATE at 8:14 p.m. PT, June 24, 2015)

Map of the Lake Fire
Map of the Lake Fire, 5:09 p.m. PT, June 24, 2015.

Wednesday afternoon approximately 360 campers were safely evacuated from Camp Oakes in the Lake Williams Area. This was a precautionary evacuation due to the large number of campers.

The fire remains active on the northeast end. On Wednesday the fire made a push north toward the Rainbow Lane Area but so far no structures have been lost. The southern portion of the fire burned into the headwaters of the North Fork of Whitewater, and may continue to burn to the south. Fire spread is primarily through burning material rolling downhill and reigniting ground fuels, which burn back uphill. Hotshot crews will remain camped out along this area over the coming days.

Wednesday evening, June 24, a hobby drone flown over the Lake Fire caused a safety problem, requiring all firefighting aircraft to be grounded, according to CAL FIRE Public Information Officer Daniel Berlant.

A collision between a drone and a helicopter or fixed wing aircraft could be fatal if it damages the windshield, the engine, props, or rotors.

The Incident Management Team reports that the Lake Fire has burned 20,874 acres. The number of personnel on the fire has increased to 1,922.

Tankers 911 and 912
Tankers 911 and 912, both DC-10s, at an air tanker base near the Lake Fire. Undated InciWeb photo.


(UPDATE at 9 a.m. PT, June 21, 2015)

Lake Fire map
Lake Fire Operations Map, morning of July 21, 2015

The Incident Management Team on the Lake Fire east of San Bernardino, California posted an updated map of the fire early this morning. It is an “Operations Map”, different from what we have seen in previous days. The perimeter appears to be very similar to the map they released on Saturday, so it may not have the latest data obtained from an infrared mapping flight Saturday night. The map does not say when the data was obtained, so it may lead a person to conclude the fire did not spread much on Saturday, which may be the case.

The fire, which is being fought by 1,875 personnel, is reported to be 16,136 acres.

Firefighters and aircraft worked to contain at least two slopovers on Saturday where the fire crossed over firelines. They have burned out along Highway 38 and are using that in some areas as a fireline. There is no fire north of the highway. No structures are known to have burned, and the cabins and organizational camps in the Barton Flats area remain intact.

The southern edge of the fire is in the high peaks of the San Gorgonio Wilderness where it is burning at a low intensity, allowing hand crews to construct firelines in very difficult terrain.

The Pacific Crest Trail is the eastern perimeter of the fire.

The weather forecast for the fire area today calls for temperatures around 80, winds out of the northwest at 10 to 14 mph gusting at 18 to 22 mph, and a relative humidity of 11 percent in the morning rising throughout the day to 22 percent by late afternoon. The prediction for Monday is similar, but with gustier winds.


(UPDATE at 7:12 p.m. PT, June 20, 2015)

Map of the Lake Fire
Map of the Lake Fire, 6 a.m. PT, June 20, 2015. Walker’s Incident Management Team.

Saturday evening the Incident Management Team headed by Incident Commander Norm Walker, finally posted a newer map of the Lake Fire that is burning east of San Bernardino, CA and south of Big Bear. The map data is from a Friday night infrared flight. It was posted more than 12 hours after the data was current, and after the fire went through an additional burning period. It was one burning period out of date when it showed up on the InciWeb site available to the public. They also have not posted a current .klm file that could be used with Google Earth.

Mr. Walker’s Team is calling the fire 16,000 acres, and they are not providing much additional updated information about the fire.


(UPDATE at 7:29 a.m. PT, June 20, 2015)

3-D map of Lake Fire
3-D map of the Lake Fire at 12:29 a.m., June 19, 2015. Data from the Incident Management Team.

The Lake Fire east of San Bernardino, California and south of Big Bear has grown to approximately 15,000 acres, according to information released Saturday morning by the Incident Management Team. They report that 500 structures are threatened, but none are believed to have been damaged or destroyed.

On Friday the fire moved east into the Heart Bar drainage and south to 10,000 Foot Ridge in the San Gorgonio Wilderness. Firefighters conducted a burn-out operation along Highway 38.

The weather on Friday was not extreme from a fire behavior standpoint, but it did include single digit humidity and west winds of 4 to 8 mph gusting to about 15 mph, as recorded at the Converse RAWS weather station 2 miles north of the fire. The forecast for Saturday for the fire area is for temperatures in the mid-80s, humidity as low as 7 percent, and winds out of the northwest at 6 to 9 mph. This should continue pushing the fire and the smoke toward the Morongo Valley.

Map of Lake Fire
Map of the Lake Fire, 12:29 a.m. June 20, 2015. Data from the Incident Management Team.


(UPDATE at 1:57 p.m. PDT, June 19, 2015)

Lake Fire
The northwest corner of the Lake Fire, south of Big Bear, as seen from Ben’s Weather Cam at 1:53 p.m. PT, June 10, 2015.

Ben’s Weather Cam is getting some excellent photos of the northwest corner of the Lake Fire south of Big Bear, California.


(UPDATED at 7:50 a.m. PT, June 19, 2015)

map lake fire
Map showing heat detected by a satellite on the Lake Fire at 3:25 a.m. PT, June 19, 2015. The red areas are the most recently burned. Click to enlarge.

The Incident Management Team on the Lake Fire east of San Bernardino, California is saying the fire has burned 11,000 acres.

There are approximately 150 structures threatened, however no structures are believed to be damaged or destroyed at this time.

On Thursday and Thursday night, the fire pushed further east into the Heart Bar Area and Coon Creek Area, and also moved farther South into the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area.


(UPDATED at 6:09 p.m. PT, June 18, 2015)

Lake Fire, 3-D map,
Lake Fire, 3-D map, 3:20 p.m. PT June 18, 2015. The red and brown squares represent heat detected by a satellite. The red squares are the most recent. North is up. Click to enlarge.

Not much additional information has been released about the status of the Lake Fire east of San Bernardino, CA and south of Big Bear. The San Bernardo National Forest is calling it 7,500 acres, while in listening to the radio traffic on the fire between two individuals, one of them, possibly Air Attack was asked to give a WAG estimate of the size. He said “somewhere around 15,000 acres”. But visibility of the fire perimeter is limited by dense smoke. The most recent heat detected by a satellite was on the south and east sides, the areas where the fire is spreading the most, pushed by a wind out of the west.

As many as 10 air tankers were working the fire today, but by mid-afternoon they were all shut down because there were not enough firefighters on the ground to take advantage of the retardant. Eventually most fires will burn through a retardant line, but as it does, it moves more slowly allowing firefighters more leeway to construct fireline on the perimeter. This fire is in a remote, rugged, high elevation area, 6,000 to 9,000 feet — making it difficult for personnel to access and work the fire.

The weather can be categorized as extreme. Over the next 48 hours the relative humidity will not exceed 20 percent, even at night, and will vary between 6 percent and 20 percent. The wind will be out of the west at 14 mph with gusts up to 22 mph until 11:30 p.m. Thursday night, after which it will decrease to 7 mph on Friday and come out of the northwest.


(UPDATED at 2:09 p.m. PT, June 18, 2015)

Lake Fire
Map showing heat detected by a satellite on the Lake Fire at 12:02 p.m. PT, June 18, 2015. Click to enlarge.
Lake Fire June 18, 2015
Smoke can be seen drifting east from the Lake Fire in southern California, June 18, 2015. NASA. Click to enlarge.


(UPDATED at 1:20 a.m. PT, June 18, 2015)

Lake Fire at 1:15 p.m. PT June 18, 2015
Lake Fire at 1:15 p.m. PT June 18, 2015. From Ben’s Weather Cam

The video below is a time-lapse that shows the start of the Lake Fire, south of Big Bear, California. It covers the 24-hour period on June 17, 2015. You can first see the fire at 1:34. The video has it shortly after the fire started.

lake fire big bear
Lake Fire south of Big Bear, at 10:02 a.m. PT, June 18, 2015.

The photo above was captured off a television (Fox 11 in Los Angeles), showing what was then a live image of the Lake Fire south of Big Bear, California, at 10:02 a.m. PT, June 18, 2015.

Air Attack is having trouble seeing the entire fire due to the heavy smoke but at about 10:30 a.m. PT he estimated about 10,000 acres had burned. About an hour later, Dispatch called him and said the National Interagency Fire Center, in an effort to prioritize orders for firefighting resources, needed to know more about the fire, and asked about the potential. Air Attack said the two day potential was for 50,000 acres. At 11:49 a.m. PT, the San Bernardino National Forest Twitter account said the Lake Fire had burned 7,500 acres.

  A photo posted by Dean Lockwood (@psdean) on


(Originally published at 8:48 a.m. PT, June 18, 2015)

lake fire wildfire big bear
Lake Fire, via Ben’s Weather Cam at 7:46 a.m. PT, June 18, 2015

The Lake Fire is burning in a remote area of southern California 17 miles east of San Bernardino and 6 miles south of Big Bear. It was reported at about 4 p.m. on Wednesday and grew very quickly in an area south of Highway 38 east of Angelus Oaks. It is spreading through timber in high elevation mountains ranging from 6,000 to 9,000 feet.

Areas under evacuation orders include Onyx Summit, Barton Flats, Seven Oaks, homes off of Rainbow Lane, and locations east of Angelus Oaks. Obviously, structures are threatened.

Lake fire map san bernardino california
Map showing heat detected by a satellite (the red squares) on the Lake Fire at 4:16 a.m. PT June 18, 2015. (click to enlarge)

Air attack is over the fire and will be directing air tankers today. Approximately eight tankers have been ordered, including a Very Large Air Tanker, a DC-10, which will be en route from Medford, Oregon already loaded with 11,600 gallons of fire retardant.

The Incident Management Team’s last report at 8:01 a.m. PT Thursday morning listed it at 1,500 acres, but from the map of the fire above it appears to be larger. A live camera, Ben’s Weather Cam, reveals that the fire was very active at 7:46 a.m. on Thursday. Another web cam is on San Jacinto.

The weather forecast is not good news for the firefighters, and predicts strong winds out of the southwest at 17 mph gusting up to 28 mph, with temperatures around 80 degrees and a relative humidity about 10 percent. Current weather conditions at Big Bear, 6 miles north of the fire, are available at A RAWS station, Burns Canyon, is located 10 miles northeast of the fire, and another one, the Converse RAWS, is two miles north of the fire.

A Type 2 Incident Management Team has been ordered.

We will update this article as more information is available.

map lake fire california big bear
Satellite photo, showing smoke from Lake Fire blowing off to the east, on Thursday morning.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

2 thoughts on “Lake Fire, east of San Bernardino, California”

  1. Figured since I was taking up space on other boards I’d give a public Thank You, for the good reporting.

  2. Praying for all the men and women fighting this fire, whether on the ground or in the air. God Bless you and keep you from harm.


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