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Another Evacuation In Lake Arrowhead

Updated on September 19, 2013

To be honest I am glad I am not living in Lake Arrowhead anymore when I receive calls from my mom informing me there is yet another pending fire evacuation in the San Bernardino Mountains. She wanted me to pull up the website so I could read the latest updates for her. After having gone through the October 2003 fires and evacuation I was a little scared to be living in the mountains, but no matter how beautiful the location it is not worth risky life and property. I moved off the mountain in 2006 and thus many of my fears have dissipated, but I still worry about my family living up there because they went through yet another evacuation in 2007. Around 8:00 p.m PDT on October 2, 2008 my mom called to have me look at the website regarding the latest developments. Skyforest was being evacuated because of the fire in proximity of Oakmont Ln. Fires are a real and persistent danger for those living in wooded regions, and one must consider the pros and cons of living in a fire prone region. This hub will be discussing some of the reasons to move out of the fire prone mountains, and why some people persist on calling the San Bernardino Mountains home for life.

Update: As 8:31 p.m. PDT on October 2, 2008 it was reported that the fire was contained in the Skyforest area. I called my mom and was asking her over the phone whether the evacuation was still in place, but she said it was called off as the fire has been contained. Nevertheless, there was widespread panic and traffic was backed up all along the streets near where my sister lived.  Is this aspect of living in the mountains worth it?  I should say not as I would not want to worry about fierce winds knocking down power lines, which is how the last fire started in 2007.  The fire danger all began twenty years earlier with the steady climate change that has taken place in the San Bernardino Mountains over time. 

Less Snowfall, Drought, And The Bark Beetle Infestations

The bark beetle became much more of a pest when droughts stopped killing off the barkbeetle population. Bark beetles are known for eating away the bark of a tree, which is the equivalent to a human having skin cancer. Just as a human would need to take precautions such as visiting a specialist, trees with bark beetles must be removed in order to curb the spread of the population. The U.S. Forest Service encouraged people to cut down and remove trees infested with bark beetles, but many people are only part-time residents and did not want to pay for the expense of the removal. Others cut down the trees and failed to remove them right away, which still allowed the bark beetles to continue spreading.

Back in the 1990s before the widespread bark beetle infestations people balked at having to cut down diseased trees. Smog and drought had already weakened many pine and cedar trees in the Lake Arrowhead region, but the bark beetle simply expedited the death of many of these magnificient trees.  As a child I love many of our tall pine tree and actually wept to see what drought and the bark beetle did to these lovely organisms, so anyone who claimes there is no global warming should grow up in Lake Arrowehad in the 80's and 90's to learn the real truth. 

A hundred years ago the tree were much healthier because they had more space to grow.  Over time building of homes and business brought an end to the naturally occuring forest fires.  However, the dense forests of trees were not normal because a hundred years previously the naturally occurring fires used to keep the forest in check. Forest fires have always occurred in wooded areas, but residential growth in areas such as the San Bernardino Mountains makes these firestorms a recipe for disaster. Add this on top of the drought, smog, dense forests, conjested housing, and the fire department now has a very real danger any time even the smallest fire starts.  By the way all the fires start small and spread like wildfire of course. Firestorms have now become a persistent danger for residents of the San Bernardino Mountains and other wooded/brush areas of Southern California.

The Cons Of Living In The San Bernardino Mountains

* Persistent fire danger.


*Less than adequate rainfall and snowfall.

*Densely built housing.

*Isolated area harder for fire fighters to reach.

*The US not having their own super scooper water planes to combat the fires with.

*Fire fighters are thinly stretched during the fire prone months of the year.

Pros Of Living In The San Bernardino Mountains

* Great public schools.

*Lower crime rates.

* Beautiful Scenery.

*Friendly neighbors.

*Isolation (For those who want it).

*Located within two hours drive of Los Angeles, the high desert, and the Pacific Ocean.

There are many reasons people decide to go or stay in the mountains. I for one was not excited by the lack of job opportunities and basically I only could be a substitute teacher. Commuting is not for me since I am not a driver, and going up and down on the bus everyday was just not for me. Moving off the mountain was the right move for me and I have a larger variety of opportunities in the valley. However, each person has to decide this for themselves, and my sister believes living in the mountains is a good thing because of the good schools in the area. Several of the schools have been recognized as California Distinguished Schools and children are more likely to get one on one help from teachers than kids would in larger schools.

The public schools are of as high caliber as many private schools down here in the valley, but one must keep in mind this is because of the affluent taxpayer dollars. As socialistic as many may think this sounds, I believe all children are entitled to an excellent education no matter where they grow up, but people are much more likely to get it communities with higher socio-economic demographics. My sister's family is by no means well to do, but living in affluent community with wealthy tax payers ensure they will always attend schools with top notch teachers and adequate resources. This is one of the reasons my sister would never want to move. Another reason is that scenery is beautiful even with all the growth and progress, and even I yearn to just open my door and walk into the woods to be alone during many times of the day. Growing up in an urban area is a very different life, and many are willing to risk living in a fire prone region to reap the benefits of raising their family in a beautiful place. Unfortunately, continue growth and the lack of a building moratorium will eventually alter the the mountains I love, so I think there need to be an end put to erecting so many houses. I still love to visit, but would not live there after the persistent fire dangers.


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    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Southern California, USA


      I am so glad you finally commented as you are the first person I know in real life to do so.  Please come back and sign up and write about your experience with the fires because it would make a good hub.  I agree, I do not want anyone to lose any of their belongings, and I am glad you have the condo to go to if there is another evacuation.  I hope you can get the condo again if there is another evacuation.  Thanks for commenting and sharing your story, it is good to have some people who actually live in the mountains doing so.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Wow I didn't even know about the evac. I was home most of the day and heard nothing. what a pain that would have been. I refuse to let my pics burn in a fire, so I would have been racing around, getting all my pics and scrapbooking stuff together. I was real worried about my wedding pics last year, I would have been real depressed if they had burned up with my house. It was a relief that they family condo was available, because we would not have been able to afford a hotel, and I would have been a nervous wreck at the shelter. On top of that I had a 3 month old. I wouldn't want to risk him getting sick at the shelter. I hope to god the condo will be available next time we have to evacuate.

    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Southern California, USA

      It was last year Constant Walker, and no I do not think it is worth it.  My family stayed with us the entire week, but it was getting a little crowded with my mom and my sister's entire family.  Finally my sister and her husband decided to go stay with his mom as they should have in the first place.  Not sure why they wasted the money on a hotel room the first two night when they could have stayed with her for free. There have been two evacuations in less than two years, October 2003 and October 2007. Both of these can be attributed to smog, global warming, lack of snow fall, the bark beetle plague, and overcrowded housing because in years past fire was not as much as a threat to residential areas, except perhaps with the Panorama Fire of 1980. 

      Fortunately back during the 2003 evacuation we went down into the High Desert and camped until some nice people from my mom's work allowed us to stay with them.  Ironically during the 2003 evacuation I had been in the process of moving and I was able to spend the rest of the evacuation in my empty apartment.  The day the Grand Prix and Old Fires emerged I was going to move all of my belongings back to the mountains, but I was not able to because of the fire.  After the 2003 fire I said no more of this and decided to move back off the mountain as soon as I could.  It is very beautiful up there and the schools are great, but it is not worth it to me.  Unfortunately most people do have to stay in hotels, shelters, or camp because they do not have friends or family in the area.  Fires are not worth all the hassle, so I am happier to live in places where they are not as much of a threat.  Although during the 2007 fire my friend was having a panic attacking and was saying he thought it was coming down the mountain to the city, but I assured him it just looked that way and would not come that far.

    • Constant Walker profile image

      Constant Walker 

      11 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

      I have a cousin who lives near there, and his in-laws actually live there. Last year (or was it two years ago?) they all sat in a motel room wondering if they still had a home. Me, I don't think it's worth it.

    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Thanks for taking the time to read grumpyjacksa.

    • grumpyjacksa profile image


      11 years ago from south africa

      sometimes we forget how much we actually have to be grateful for......

    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Thank you Just_Rodney. The fire in 2007 from what I heard occurred due to high winds and dry brush, but in 2003 there was an arsonist in the Crestline area that started the fire down there. It took a few years before they found them, which is very scary. No one ever did find the arsonists started the Panorama Fire back in 1980.

    • Just_Rodney profile image

      Rodney Fagan 

      11 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      My prayers go out to you, yes it is a major problem, having these natural disasters occurring and that you have loved ones affected by them.

      What is more scary, is after a spate of these forest fires breaking out, is that people have been arrested and will be on trial, for arson. The fires had been deliberately started!

      This happened over here not so long ago.

      Frightening, that this type of mentality exists!

    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Thank you for keeping me in your prayers G-Ma, you are so kind :). I just wish my family and others were not so fond of living up there. Honestly a building moratorum should have been instituted up there back in the eighties, but everyone wants to live in the mountains and we cannot stop progress I guess. However, the mountains do not look quite the way they once did with the persistent droughts, global warming, smog, and trees lost due to fire damage. The Riverside/San Bernardino County area has one of the highest rates of air pollution due to smog in the country, and the fires only make the air more hazardous. I am just glad this fire turned out to be somewhat of a false alarm this time. Nevertheless, there are two super scoopers on loan from Canada this time of the year, which makes me feel we should have some of our own. Why must we rely on Canada when the US in general, and Southern Calfornia in particular, has the greatest fire danger in the world? I hope we can get some of our own super scoopers in the future.

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 

      11 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      wow.... am glad to hear all is well...and prayers for all the people that do have to deal with evacuation..not fun and very worrisome...years ago peole didn't build way far away or not so many..and when a fire started it could burn itself out...but as the populations have becomes even more well as for our firefighters...Glad you are safe my dear...G-Ma :o) hugs

    • SweetiePie profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Southern California, USA

      So true sirdent!  I am glad I am not living up there anymore, but much happer that my sister was okay this time around.  Sadly two houses burned a mile below them, which to me is too close for comfort.  I would move if I were them, but they are attached to living in the mountains and decide to stay.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Fire is hard to combat. It feeds off nearly everything in it's path. I am glad you're not in the mountains also. I can only imagine going through an evacuation. Thanks for letting us know what;s going on also.


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