SHAFAQNA – Firefighters in Southern California completed the rescue early Wednesday of more than 180 motorists who were stranded when a winter storm brought snow to the San Bernardino Mountains.The San Bernardino County Fire Department said in a news release that 136 people were rescued on State Highway 138 near the communities of Crestline and Mount Baldy, about 45 miles east of Los Angeles.
The drivers became stuck after more than a foot of snow fell in the area, which was also swept by high winds. The rescues came as an arctic air mass mangled transportation routes and left thousands without power in the state.
Firefighters used SnowCats to navigate the steep, snowy switchbacks of Highway 138 to rescue about 50 motorists and transport them to First Baptist Church in Crestline. Red Cross workers there provided aid.
Some motorists were able to drive away as plows cleared snow away. Others abandoned their cars and walked to their homes or nearby shelters.
No serious collisions or injuries were reported.
Another 50 people were stranded in snowy conditions around Mount Baldy, with about 25 near the Mt. Baldy ski area and about 25 further down the mountain near Mt. Baldy Village, the department said. Eventually, about 40 people were sheltered at Mt. Baldy Lodge. Others were shuttled down the hill to Fire Station 12 in San Antonio Heights.
Rescue operations were completed by about 3 a.m. local time, the department said.
In the Sacramento area in Northern California, more than 8,000 customers were without power Tuesday afternoon due to gusty winds.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, high winds felled trees and blocked freeways. BART, or the Bay Area Rapid Transit, experienced severe delays because of trees blown onto the tracks.
Wind gusts topped 50 miles per hour in parts of the Bay Area.