HESPERIA Several residents came together Wednesday morning to help keep a fire which ripped through the back yards of several houses from destroying their neighbors' homes, San Bernardino County Fire officials said.


"I'm so grateful for all their help," said Verenice Santos, who was home alone when the fire burned more than half of her back yard. "I looked outside and all I saw was white from the smoke and then I saw my neighbors run into my yard with hoses. I'm so glad they were there."


Robert Hutter was at his home working on his boat at about 11 a.m. when he noticed the smoke across the street in the 11100 block of Arroyo Drive near Eucalyptus Street and Balsam Avenue.


"The lady at that house was home alone so we went out there with shovels trying to keep it from getting to her house. It got really close," Hutter said. "And then when that wind picked it up it just went through three or four back yards in just a minute."


Firefighters got to the scene quickly and found that the fire, which started at the south end of the block behind the homes, had already spread across two back yards. As the winds picked up, Battalion Chief Dan Munsey said the fire jumped across at least five properties and completely destroyed two outbuildings at one location.


No homes were damaged in the blaze, which consumed two acres of brush.


Firefighters and neighbors used hoses to saturate the ground and brush surrounding the homes to try and prevent any flare-ups.


The cause of the fire is still under investigation.


Beatriz E. Valenzuela may be reached at (760) 951-6276 or at BValenzuela@VVDailyPress.com.