Shortly after 2:45 pm on June 26, 2021, a fire was reported in Phelan on Nielson and Campanula Rd just east of Johnson Road. A vehicle caught fire which set off dry brush in the field to the south. The fire quickly burned south towards Sunnyslope, where the forward movement of the fire was stopped.
Within 20 minutes or less first responders were on the scene, including sheriff’s deputies and fire personnel. Fire engines could be seen at Nielson Road and scattered at various houses heading towards Sunnyslope. The sheriff’s helicopter was overhead, warning people to clear the area near Sunnyslope as resources shifted to the front of the fire. A local water truck pushed through the haphazardly parked vehicles. It began spraying water along Sunnyslope as the fire approached the roadside. Before the water truck could finish its run, fire engines from CAL FIRE, SBC Fire, Apple Valley, and Victorville had arrived to help contain the fire.
A fire spotter could be seen circling above, which signaled that air tankers would soon be inbound. Soon after, two C130 fire tankers were circling on approach for a drop. After about two or three passes, one of the tankers dropped down to a few hundred feet or less off the ground and laid retardant along the fire’s east flank. Soon after, the second plane dropped a smaller payload closer to Sunnyslope. A CALFIRE helicopter was also flying in and around the fire and appeared to be putting out spot fires.
Luckily the fire burned mostly in open brush; there were two homes in its direct path as it moved to the south, both of which appeared to remain unscathed. At least two hand crews were on scene, one from Fenner Camp and a County Crew. They cut containment lines between the fire and nearby homes and mopped up after the fire had passed. Two dozers were also on scene, cutting line and helping out where needed.
By about 4:15 pm, the fire’s forward movement appeared to have stopped, with crews now working on the cleanup. A Hose line could be seen along the west side of the fire as hand crews hauled additional lengths of hose to be placed along the fire’s perimeter as they pushed towards 100% containment. According to CAL FIRE the fire burned about 30 acres and is 35% contained. Crews are expected to work through the night with a day shift tomorrow to bring full containment.
This fire had the potential to be much worse than it was, as this area of Phelan is densely populated with many homes scattered across the desert foothills. The response time of first responders was quick, and the resources were many. It was reassuring to see that our first responders have got the backs of Tri-Community residents.
The Fire Approaching Homes (Courtesy Kellie Williams)
Air Tanker Making A Drop (Courtesy Kellie Williams)