A 40,000-acre fire chewed through desert wilderness Thursday after destroying 100 homes and buildings and was on course to possibly merge with a blaze in the San Bernardino National Forest, where it could feed on vast stands of dead trees.
The huge Sawtooth fire edged northwest toward the forest, burning greasewood, Joshua trees, pinon pines and brush on the desert floor. Containment was just 20 percent. Five miles away, the Millard fire had scorched 1,200 acres in the forest and was 5 percent surrounded.
In the scorched landscape left behind by the Sawtooth, residents returned to see how they fared.
"We're very, very lucky," said Sandy Dugan, whose Pioneertown home still stood while the charred remains of others smoldered. "It's hard to see your neighbors' homes gone."
Authorities said smoke from the blazes 100 miles east of Los Angeles was smelled in Las Vegas and Ogden, Utah