San Bernardino County firefighters on Thursday used snowcat vehicles to reach the scene of a burning home in Lake Arrowhead after multiple reports of a “large explosion,” officials said.
The blaze was reported before 9 a.m. in the 28400 block of Larchmont Lane, where several trees caught fire near the house. There was no immediate word of injuries.
With many roads in the area impassible due to snow, firefighters used snowplows to gain access the single-family home, according to the San Bernardino County Fire Department.
Civilians were digging out a snow-covered fire hydrant when firefighters arrived. The Fire Department then began using the snowcats to shuttle equipment to the scene.
The cause of the fire was unknown.
California National Guard crews are expected to arrive Thursday afternoon in the San Bernardino Mountains, where several communities have been stranded by back-to-back winter storms that have dumped so much snow some residents can barely see out their windows.
Around-the-clock plowing has been underway in the area but it could take more than a week to reach some areas, said Dawn Rowe, chair of the county’s board of supervisors. Residents are dealing with as much as 7 feet of snow, and sheriffs’ personnel have conducted 17 rescue operations to help off-roaders and skiers. Emergency crews are trying to reach residents who need assistance.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday proclaimed a state of emergency in San Bernardino and 12 other counties to support disaster relief by making state agencies and aid available and asking for federal help in clearing and repairing highways. The governor announced that the state was bringing in more snow plows and road crews to help clear roads and he authorized the California National Guard to mobilize for disaster response.
“We know that roofs are starting to collapse,” she said. “There are other businesses that will likely be affected by the weight of the snow.”
The county has set up a hotline for residents dealing with issues like frozen pipes, roof problems and food shortages: (909)387-3911. The San Bernardino Mountains are a major tourism and recreation destination but also home to a large year-round population in small cities and communities around lakes and scattered along winding roads. About 80,000 people live either part- or full-time in the communities affected, said David Wert, a county spokesman.
Snowcat vehicles are vital emergency vehicles in mountain areas when snow and ice conditions don’t allow a conventional fire/rescue response. A Snowcat (short for snow and caterpillar) is an enclosed-cab, truck-sized, fully tracked vehicle designed to move on snow. San Bernardino County Fire deploys a large fleet of Snowcat vehicles, which are strategically placed across snow-prone mountain areas.
Source: ABC7 Los Angeles and the Associated Press