Firefighters stretch hose toward a flare-up in the brush fire near Big Bear, California, a mountain town which has been evacuated and which lies in the path of advancing wildfires, on Wednesday, 29 October 2003. Most businesses and homes have been abandoned and, although firefighters say they hope to protect the town, the fires are out of control and the wind has picked up again. At least 20 people including a fireman have been killed in bush fires that have scorched more than 2,470 square kilometers (950 square miles) of California, officials said Wednesday.
Photo credit: EPA/Armando Arorizo
BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif. (AP) -- The massive blaze creeping toward this mountain resort town came to a standstill Saturday, prompting fire officials to let many residents return home.
``It's lying there right now not doing anything,'' Big Bear City Fire Chief Dana VanLuven said. ``The threat is still very real, but we are confident we can hold it off.''
Residents of Big Bear Valley were given the go-ahead to return home starting Sunday morning, VanLuven said. Residents in the Lake Arrowhead area, roughly 20 miles west, already had begun returning.
Light snow and cooler temperatures aided firefighters, who raced to bulldoze firebreaks around communities in the San Bernardino Mountains to prepare for hot, dry winds they expected within days. Work along the south side of the lake, however, was suspended because of concerns about archaeological and sensitive plant sites.