A stubborn fire that began Saturday afternoon, Sept. 19, in the Santa Ana River Wash near Orange Street continues to burn, creating visible smoke from the area.
Although the 37-acre blaze is 100 percent contained, firefighters are still contending with deep-seated fire over a majority of the area as a result of decades-old wood product left behind, following the closure of the Big Bear Lumber Company, which operated in the area from 1953 until it was closed in 1982.
When the mill and surrounding area were decommissioned and returned to its more natural state, the wood chips that remained from the mill were scattered about and allowed to decompose through natural processes. There are areas where the wood chips are over two feet deep.
The affected area is under the jurisdiction of the federal Bureau of Land Management, which is working with the Redlands Fire Department and other agencies. Personnel and equipment are limited, however, as agencies continue to battle multiple large fires throughout the state and the Pacific Northwest. As a result, smoke may continue to be seen from the area for several days.