- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 15, 2006

YUCCA VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — Nearly 4,000 firefighters worked in blistering heat yesterday to corral a huge complex of fires in rugged wilderness and keep them from threatening desert and mountain communities.

“This is a very dangerous situation,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said after flying over the blazes. “The weather conditions are such — wind and a lot of heat — it is a perfect condition for wildfires.”

A body was found about a mile away from the home of a man reported missing after a fire swept through Pioneertown, officials said.

The San Bernardino County’s coroner was investigating the death, National Park Service spokeswoman Jan Lemons said. No other details were available.

A family member last heard from Jerry Guthrie, 57, when he called Tuesday and said the fire was close and he was preparing to evacuate, authorities said. His house was not destroyed, despite being surrounded by charred desert.

Fire officials reported some progress on the fires, which covered more than 110 square miles in Southern California about 100 miles east of Los Angeles.

The fires were burning below the flanks of the San Bernardino Mountains, but as of yesterday were not considered immediate threats to resort communities in the Big Bear Lake region atop the range.

“There is no evacuation or potential evacuations at this time for Big Bear,” said Wayne Barringer, a fire information officer for the California Department of Forestry.

Mr. Schwarzenegger, who visited a command post at Yucca Valley High School with his wife, Maria Shriver, said their helicopter had flown close enough to see firefighters working on the ground.

“It is a huge fire. It is really extraordinary how quickly it has spread out,” he said. “And that’s why I say it is very dangerous and they have to contain it as quickly as possible.”

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