Fire burns through timber near Southern California ski resort; hundreds of homes threatened

Hundreds of mountain homes remained threatened early Monday as crews increased containment of a wildfire burning through timber near a popular Southern California ski resort.

Several water and retardant-dropping aircraft were making runs over the blaze near Snow Summit resort in Big Bear Lake, about 100 miles east of Los Angeles.

Firefighters working through the night held the blaze to about 100 acres. It was 50 percent contained.

Evacuation orders were in place for up to 500 homes, many of them cabins and vacation houses.

Water cannons usually used for making snow were pointed at the flames shortly after the fire broke out Sunday afternoon.

"We've made plans for this exact scenario," Snow Summit's marketing manager Chris Riddle told KABC-TV. "We're pumping out a bunch of water right now, wetting down the trees, wetting down the surrounding grass."

The resort in the San Bernardino Mountains was open for mountain biking and scenic ski-lift rides before closing for the fire, Riddle said.

All schools within the Bear Valley Unified School District were closed Monday because of the fire. Several mountain roads were off-limits.

In Central California, timber and brush left parched by the state's extended drought again spread a fire that has been burning for nearly a month. It grew to more than 78 square miles Monday.

Firefighters were slowly making progress on the stubborn blaze that destroyed a lodge in Kings Canyon National Park in Fresno County. The fire was 7 percent contained, the U.S. Forest Service said. No injuries have been reported.

Smoke from the huge fire was expected to degrade air quality, especially in valley areas to the northeast, officials said.

Smoke also was making the search difficult for a 62-year-old hiker who has been missing since Thursday. On Sunday, a Blackhawk helicopter from the Army National Guard joined the search for Miyuki Hardwood who separated from a group of hikers.

A fire east of San Francisco that started last week charred about 4 square miles near Livermore before firefighters fully contained it Sunday. No injuries were reported.