Firefighters protect Banning community

POSTED: 08:40 PM PDT May 02, 2013 
Banning wildfire
BANNING, Calif. -

The Summit fire in Banning burned for a second day, fueled by dry conditions and strong gusts up to sixty miles per hour.  Firefighters continued to work around the clock to contain the fire after working tirelessly to keep it from damaging structures. "This was essentially a wall of flames, that basically came down on us," said Bryan Bagwell.

Bagwell lives in a home that is on the fire line.  His fence rests mangled and melted after the fire ripped through his backyard.  The flames scorched the land, leaving only a black landscape.  On the other side of a chain-link fence, the charred remains of his neighbor's house.  But thanks to quick-acting firefighters, Bryan's house stood untouched.  "If it wasn't for those guys, and the job they do, I can't tell you what kind of losses I would have had," said Bagwell.  "I really owe everything to those guys that did everything."

Hundreds of firefighters from around Southern California continue to battle the blaze, working around the clock, taking short breaks at a nearby park.  "Whether they were handcrews and trying to protect homes or whether it was fire engines, everybody here performed at highest level today," said Cal Fire public information officer Julie Hutchinson.  "They are protecting these homes and these communities."

The winds knocked over power lines and blew dust and ash through the air.  The wind paired with an early onslaught of tinderbox conditions means a busy season for fire crews is here.  "We're seeing major activity at the beginning of May that's the equivalent of the end of summer," said Hutchinson.  "So we know we're going to have months of drying and low humidities, it's only going to make this situation worse and more volatile for us."