Massive San Bernardino Fire Halts Cargo Flow from Long Beach Port

 Blue Cut Fire CHP

Photo by Jim Smith, San Bernardino CHP. 

A massive fire that has burned through 30,000 acres of land in the San Bernardino mountains and caused the evacuation of about 83,000 residents has now affected the movement of cargo to and from the Port of Long Beach, due to the closure of vital roads and railways.

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The Blue Cut Fire—which began Tuesday near the Cajon Pass and forced the closure of parts of Interstate 15 and a nearby railway corridor—has forced containers to stay on terminal property, port spokesman Michael Gold said Wednesday afternoon.

Gold said the fire has forced trains to stop carrying cargo from the port since Tuesday afternoon.

The fire burned a bridge and train trestle in the Cajon Pass, impacting the movement of goods to and from the Los Angeles region, Los Angeles County officials said in a tweet on Wednesday.

Currently, there is no significant pile up of containers at the terminal, Gold said, with rail lines working to minimize an overflow. Port officials continue to monitor the fire, looking to rail providers Cal OES for updates on infrastructure damage and repair in the Cajon Pass.

The fire, which morning reports estimate is still not contained, has resulted in the loss of power for 649 customers in the San Bernardino County area, including Hesperia, Phelan and Victorville, said Southern California Edison officials.

“Crews are working with first responders to help reopen the I-15 freeway and the railway corridor,” an SCE release stated. “SCE is also prioritizing the restoration of critical services such as water pumping stations in the Cajon Pass.”

There are more than 100 damaged poles and a number of key transmission lines, subtransmission lines, substations and distribution circuits that remain threatened by the fire, according to the release.

Current closures include the southbound U.S. Highway 395, closed at Joshua Street; I-15 from Main Street in Hesperia to I-215 in San Bernardino; State Route 2, closed from the LA County line to SR-138; and SR-138 closed from the LA County line to SR-173, according to Caltrans.

While a Long Beach Strike Team—composed of five fire engines and a battalion engine—is ready to be deployed if called for help, Long Beach Fire Department (LBFD) spokesman Brian Fisk said just one single firefighter paramedic was sent out to help Wednesday morning after a request was sent out for a medic to help firefighters with injuries.

The fire prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency in San Bernardino County, a release from the governor’s office announced.

San Bernardino County Sheriff's officials continued to urge residents to abide mandatory evacuation orders as of Wednesday evening.

"The Sheriff's Department continues to urge residents that are in a mandatory evacuation area to adhere to the order," SBSD officials stated. "Approximately 70 deputies, in two man units, are assigned to patrol the evacuation areas throughout the night. Deputies will be looking for anyone acting suspiciously, in efforts to prevent theft or vandalism to any of the affected homes."

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