Blue Cut Fire

Coordinates: 34°16′03″N 117°27′24″W / 34.26763°N 117.456805°W / 34.26763; -117.456805
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Blue Cut Fire
Smoke rises above the fire on August 17
LocationCajon Pass, San Bernardino County, California
Coordinates34°16′03″N 117°27′24″W / 34.26763°N 117.456805°W / 34.26763; -117.456805
Date(s)August 16, 2016 (2016-08-16) – August 23, 2016 (2016-08-23)
Burned area37,000 acres (14,973 ha)
CauseUnder investigation
Buildings destroyed
  • 105 homes
  • 213 outbuildings
Blue Cut Fire is located in southern California
Blue Cut Fire
Location in Southern California.

The Blue Cut Fire was a wildfire in the Cajon Pass, northeastern San Gabriel Mountains, and Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County, California.[1] The fire, which began on the Blue Cut hiking trail in the San Bernardino National Forest, was first reported on August 16, 2016 at 10:36 a.m., just west of Interstate 15. A red flag warning was in effect in the area of the fire, with temperatures near 100 °F (38 °C) and winds gusting up to 30 miles per hour (48 km/h).[2]

By August 18, the fire had burned 37,000 acres (57.8 sq mi; 149.7 km2) of land and destroyed 105 homes and 213 other structures.[3][4]

Fire progression[edit]

Shortly after the fire broke out, evacuations began to be ordered for the nearby communities of West Cajon Valley, Lytle Creek, Lone Pine Canyon and Swarthout Canyon.[2] By 3:00 p.m. on August 16, less than six hours after the fire started, it had spread westward to over 5,500 acres (2,200 ha), forcing additional mandatory evacuation orders for most of Oak Hills, Phelan and Summit Valley.[5]

Two firefighters were injured and briefly hospitalized on the morning of August 16, 2016 after becoming trapped while protecting homes in Swarthout Canyon.[6]

In a conference on August 17, the incident commander, battalion chief Michael Wakoski, stated that Cajon Pass acts as a natural wind tunnel, creating a funnel that can increase wind speeds by 20–30 miles per hour (32–48 km/h).[7] These winds were causing the fire to spot upwards of a half mile (0.8 km) ahead of itself.[7]

By Thursday, August 18, the fire had grown to over 31,600 acres (49.4 sq mi; 127.9 km2) and forced the evacuation of over 82,000 residents.[8] The evacuations affected an estimated 34,500 residences.

On Monday, August 22, fire officials said they had the fire 89% contained. The damaged area had grown to 37,020 acres (57.8 sq mi; 149.8 km2).[9]

Fire officials declared that the devastating wildfire was fully contained on Tuesday, August 23. The fire destroyed an estimated 105 homes and 213 other structures in San Bernardino County, and now ranks as the 20th most destructive wildfire in state history, according to Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.[10]


Due to the rapid growth and spread of the fire, fire officials ordered mandatory evacuations for over 82,000 residents in surrounding communities, including Wrightwood.[11] The Summit Inn, a historic U.S. Route 66 roadside diner built in 1952, was destroyed by the fire.[12]

On Tuesday, August 16, 2016, Caltrans closed Interstate 15 through the Cajon Pass.[13] This Interstate serves as the main route between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ten of the buildings belonging to the Thanksgiving Korean Church retreat in Phelan were destroyed by the fire. Another victim of the fire lost 135 of her livestock, and most of her property.[14]

System stability of the electric power network[edit]

As the fire approached a corridor of three 500 kV and two 287 kV transmission lines, 15 line faults in a short period of time occurred. The voltage drops and the disturbed frequency signal lead to significant losses of PV generation in the area, the most significant was nearly 1200 MW around 11:45 a.m.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Blue Cut Fire Fire Incident Information". Inciweb. Archived from the original on August 19, 2016. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  2. ^ a b Von Quednow, Cindy (August 16, 2016). "Evacuations, Road Closures Issued in Fast-Moving Blue Cut Fire Burning in Cajon Pass". KTLA. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  3. ^ Parvini, Sarah; Vives, Ruben (August 19, 2016). "96 homes, 213 other buildings destroyed as California's fire season take another grim turn". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  4. ^ Jamieson, Alastair. "Blue Cut Fire Burns 37,000 Acres, Forces 82,000 to Evacuate in California". Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  5. ^ Quintero, Jose (August 16, 2016). "Blue Cut Fire in Cajon Pass up to 5,500 acres, evacuation area expanding". Daily Press (California). Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  6. ^ Jameson, Alastair (August 17, 2016). "Blue Cut Fire Burns 30,000 Acres, Forces 82,000 to Evacuate". NBC News. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  7. ^ a b "Live updates: Devastating Blue Cut Fire in Cajon Pass consumes homes at rapid rate, burning out of control". Los Angeles Times. August 17, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  8. ^ Mele, Christopher; Bidgood, Jess (August 17, 2016). "Tens of Thousands Evacuated as Fire Rages in Southern California". The New York Times. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  9. ^ Valenzuela, Beatriz E. (August 22, 2016). "Firefighters keep Blue Cut Fire from spreading, increase containment during 7th day". Press-Enterprise. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  10. ^ Branson-Potts, Hailey (August 23, 2016). "Explosive Blue Cut fire fully contained as other wildfires continue to rage". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  11. ^ Times, Los Angeles (August 17, 2016). "Homes burn, thousands flee as out-of-control brush fire chars 30,000 acres in Cajon Pass". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  12. ^ Noyes, Jack; Irick, Whitney. "Brush Fire Destroys Historic Summit Inn Diner". NBC Los Angeles. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  13. ^ Atagi, Colin; Ferreira, Gabby (August 17, 2016). "Blue Cut wildfire doubles to 46 square miles, evacuations continue". The Desert Sun. Retrieved August 17, 2016.
  14. ^ Vives, Ruben (August 19, 2016). "Live updates; 96 homes, more than 200 other structures destroyed in Blue Cut fire". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  15. ^ Inverter Task Force (June 20, 2017), NERC (ed.), 1,200 MW Fault Induced Solar Photovoltaic Resource Interruption Disturbance Report - Southern California 8/16/2016 Event (PDF), vol. 1, p. 32, retrieved October 16, 2018