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Contact: Joe Zarki, 760-367-5520
Firefighters continued battling two lightning-caused wildfires that ignited on Friday afternoon. Both fires are located in the remote Little San Bernardino Mountains. The Pushawalla Fire is burning along a rugged ridge line in pinyon pine and juniper habitat south of the lower end of the park’s Geology Tour Road. The Berdoo Fire is burning in Joshua trees and desert scrub habitat on the southeast side of Pleasant Valley near the northern end of the Berdoo Canyon four-wheel drive road.
The Berdoo Fire grew to 185 acres as it burned in Joshua trees near the upper section of the Berdoo Canyon four-wheel drive road. Incident Commander Shane Littlefield reported the fire as 90% contained with full containment projected by 6 p.m. on Saturday evening. The Pushawalla Fire continued to burn actively on the higher ridges and slopes of the Pushawalla Plateau. By 5 p.m. Saturday, the Pushawalla Fire had grown to 1,500 acres in size. Containment of the Pushawalla Fire was estimated at 25% by fire officials with full containment projected for July 12.
Nearly 160 firefighters were working the two fires by late Saturday afternoon. One hand crew and two engines were assigned to the Berdoo Fire. Resources committed to the Pushawalla Fire included five hand crews, three helicopters, four air tankers, and one lead aircraft supporting the tankers. Fire strategy for the Pushawalla Fire calls for direct attack of the fire by hand crews with air support from water and fire retardant drops to slow the spread of the fire. One challenge for air operations has been the lack of surface water in the park making it necessary to bring water in by tankers or fly long distances to secure water outside the park.
Fire crews supporting the fires represent multiple agencies including the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the California Department of Forestry, and the California Conservation Corps.
Park facilities temporarily closed by fire activity include the Geology Tour Road and the Berdoo Canyon Road. All other roads, trails, and visitor facilities remain open for normal summer operations.