Washington, Lake Fire update: Crews continue battle against multiple blazes

A stand of trees go up in flames on the northern flank of the Lake Fire last Thursday afternoon, June 18, 2015.
A stand of trees go up in flames on the northern flank of the Lake Fire last Thursday afternoon, June 18, 2015.
Stuart Palley for KPCC

Two major wildfires continued to burn in drought-stricken California Tuesday as crews fought to gain ground.

In Southern California, cooler weather helped crews make progress against a huge forest fire in a remote area of the San Bernardino Mountains, the Associated Press reports.

The Lake Fire in San Bernardino County, about 90 miles east of Los Angeles, was partially contained and holding steady at about 27 square miles as firefighters attacked the flames with a fleet of water-dropping aircraft, AP reports.

Several trails remained closed and areas with homes remained under evacuation orders. About 500 structures were still threatened, though no buildings have been damaged or destroyed.

The cause of that fire remained unclear.

Fire Tracker: Lake Fire in San Bernardino County

In Northern California, air tankers and helicopters helped hundreds of firefighters battle a wildfire south of Lake Tahoe that jumped nearly 2,000 acres and burned over 15 square miles of timber and grass.

The Washington Fire in Alpine County was is burning about 41 miles south of Tahoe, according to fire officials.

Fire information officer Denise Alonzo said winds had helped push the fire up mountain ranges, but those gusts have largely subsided. 

No structures have been damaged, but the California mountain town of Markleeville remained on standby for possible evacuations.

"We don't have evacuations for that town in effect for that town at this time," Alonzo said. "They are prepared for it just in case." 

Highways 89 and 4 have been closed as firefighters continue to work on the edges of the fire.

"Unfortunately, we don't have any of the fire line contained at this time," Alonzo said. She added that the fire was caused by a lightning strike and had been burning for at least a week before it was detected. 

"That's the problem with lightning," she said. "You can have lightning in a tree that's out in the middle of nowhere and people don't see it until sometimes it's too late to get on it."

Heavy smoke in the area is drifting to surrounding areas, prompting officials to issue an advisory warning the public to take precautions.

Several campgrounds have been evacuated, though no one has been injured.

Fire Tracker: Washington Fire in Alpine County

Another fire near Santa Margarita in central California burned two homes, four mobile homes and two recreational vehicles that people lived in, according to the AP.

The fire burned less than 3 square miles, along with 10 other buildings, seven vehicles, a boat and a trailer. It was mostly contained, AP reports.

This story has been updated.