Fires in San Bernardino County are “Catastrophic”

Some evacuation orders lifted in San Bernardino County towns hit by debris flows, fire

By John Miller

1 September 2017

On Saturday, the evacuation orders for residents of more than 80 communities were lifted in several towns in the San Bernardino County towns of Redlands, Cardiff, Hemet, Fontana, and San Bernardino, after severe fire damage and flooding caused by two separate debris flows.

According to fire officials, the fires in Redlands and Hemet were both caused by the overflow of debris during the storms. Both have resulted in about $600 million in damage.

The latest evacuation of parts of the city of San Bernardino was also lifted Saturday, though some residents stayed in hotels to watch the debris flows. “The evacuation was lifted early Saturday [morning] because the damage was so extensive,” said San Bernardino Fire Chief Anthony Bissig in a press briefing on Saturday evening.

“The worst damage has been in the San Bernardino area, and there’s nothing you can do about the flooding,” Bissig said. “You can’t put a Band-Aid on the damage.”

A number of evacuees have been taken to San Bernardino County hospitals with what are described as “life threatening injuries.” At about 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, the Press-Enterprise newspaper cited emergency medical personnel who were unable to treat the injuries of a woman who was taken from Redlands to the hospital on fire department vehicles.

The woman was later reported to have “multiple burns on her body and upper extremities and was being sedated and was unresponsive,” the newspaper reported.

About four hours earlier, another woman was taken to hospital after being hit by flying debris in Hemet, according to the newspaper.

According to the San Bernardino County Fire Department, the fires are being treated as catastrophic. “The fires have been declared a disaster by the state, and they are being treated as a catastrophic event,” said Bissig in his briefing.

The emergency declaration was the result of a twofold assessment: “There’s not enough fire apparatus to even get through the lines,” Bissig said, calling the fires “catastrophic.”

“This is an example of what can happen in an area that I wouldn�

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