Fast-moving Southern California wildfire forces 82,000 to evacuate

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. -- In less than a day after igniting, a Southern California wildfire, burning uncontrollably, has engulfed 18,000 acres.

The size of the fire is roughly 28 square miles.

The fast-moving fire forced more than 82,000 residents of San Bernardino County to evacuate, a Cal Fire spokesman said Tuesday.

Fire authorities warned of "imminent threat to public safety" as 0 percent of the fire had been contained as of Tuesday night.

The massive fire, which is being called Blue Cut, prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency in the area.

The blaze started about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Cajon Pass, a mountain pass between the San Bernardino and San Gabriel mountains. The area is about 70 miles east of Los Angeles.

An estimated 34,500 homes are affected by the evacuation warnings which affect Cajon Pass, Lytle Creek, Wrightwood, Oak Hills and surrounding areas. Seven-hundred firefighters have been sent to the area.

Earlier in the day, six firefighters were trapped by the wildfire, but were able to find shelter at a nearby structure, according to San Bernardino County Fire. Two of them suffered minor injuries, but were later released and returned to the fire line.

The fire quickly scorched up the dry hills as winds carried the embers. It fed on the thick, parched brush, and engulfed an unknown number of homes and structures, according to fire officials.

One resident told KABC that she was there when the flames were all around.

"We had to keep the windows up because we couldn't breathe. The smoke was so thick, and as soon as the smoke cleared, we could see that everything was gone," said Crystal Armstrong, who lost her home in the fire.

Firefighters implored residents to evacuate, saying that refusing to do so puts their lives and other people's lives at risk.

Aerial views showed the mountains covered in plumes of smoke.

Drought-stricken California has been hit with waves of wildfires this summer, fueled by dry conditions, heat and dead brush.

Before the latest Blue Cut Fire broke out Tuesday, 8,000 California firefighters had already been battling eight large wildfires across the state.