Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 09/07/2011 06:24:56 PM PDT

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday declared a local emergency in order to secure federal funding to help cover the cost of last weekend’s Hill Fire in the Cajon Pass.

The proclamation, signed by board Chairwoman Josie Gonzales on Saturday and ratified by the board Wednesday, qualifies the county for a Federal Emergency Management Assistance Grant, county spokesman David Wert said.

The estimated cost of fighting the fire is $2 million, according to a report prepared for the board.

Though data was still being compiled on Wednesday, a preliminary estimate shows that the county’s share of that cost is more than $500,000, said Tracey Martinez, spokeswoman for the county Fire Department.

The U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire also assisted in suppressing the wildfire that erupted at 12:43 p.m. Friday adjacent to the 15 Freeway in the Cajon Pass south of Oak Hills.

It burned 1,158 acres of tinder-dry chaparral and grass in Oak Hills and Hesperia, destroying the home of 74-year-old Bruce Schumacher and two trailers on his 15-acre ranch in Oak Hills, officials said.

One firefighter suffered from heat exhaustion and another was pulled from the fire lines for a medical emergency, according to inciweb.org, an interagency incident website that tracks wildland fires across the nation.

A total of 750 firefighters, 14 planes – including a DC-10 – and six helicopters worked overnight to extinguish the blaze, which was declared 100 percent contained Saturday evening.

Under the terms of the grant, the federal government would pick up 75 percent of the cost for battling the blaze and the county would pick up the remaining 25 percent, Martinez said.

She said that per agreement, the total cost for fire suppression is divided among the three agencies that fought the blaze, the cause of which has not been determined.

Gonzales and board Vice Chairman Brad Mitzelfelt were absent at Wednesday’s special meeting. Supervisor Gary Ovitt acted as board chairman, and the board ratified the proclamation on a 3-0 vote.

County Fire Marshal Peter Brierty said the emergency proclamation will help finance cleanup efforts at Schumacher’s property.

“In this particular case it will help us with disposal of ash and debris from the structures that were destroyed,” Brierty said.

He said the local emergency will stay in effect until all cleanup is complete.

About 1,500 residents were evacuated from their homes during the fire. The American Red Cross set up shelters at the County Fairgrounds in Victorville, and county Animal Care and Control set up shelters at the Fairgrounds for animals displaced by the fire.

Four days after the fire, Schumacher was still reeling from the devastating impact it has had on his life.

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