13 dead in San Bernardino County mountains amid winter storm

Several residents in the San Bernardino Mountains continue to struggle in the aftermath of a series of storms that dumped so much snow that roads became impassable and roofs collapsed. Now residents are preparing for the next round of storms. 

Many of the main roads remain closed and access is limited to only residents. Non-residents are urged to use back roads through Lucerne valley. 

Residents and crews are working around the clock to remove snow from roofs, as the rain could create more weight. They are also removing snow from the roads, since it could turn into black ice once it melts.  

Vehicles left on the road will be towed; all cars and trucks must be in driveways.

San Bernardino County Fire has eight snowcats, making it the largest fleet of public safety snowcats in the region.

The death toll continues to rise. As of Thursday, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said it has responded to 13 death investigations. A preliminary investigation revealed only one of the 13 deaths is directly correlated to the weather, the sheriff's office said. That person died at the hospital following a traffic crash during the storm. Four of the other victims were either in hospice or died at the hospital, according to authorities. The eight remaining deaths are under investigation by the coroner.

"The preliminary information we have at this time, is the circumstances observed at the scenes did not present as weather related. Many of the deceased had significant medical histories or chronic conditions. Seven of these decedents were transported to the Coroner’s Division for additional investigation," the sheriff's department said. 

San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus says he knows people are frustrated and addressed what he calls "a lot of circulating misinformation."

At least 100 people have been rescued so far, but officials and residents say more work needs to be done. 

In most cases, neighbors have been helping neighbors and private citizens are left with no choice but to rescue themselves.

"In those cases, it's the county area that we're talking about. And thank God for the neighbors helping neighbors. They've been instrumental in helping us get a handle on this. And we may not get to everybody as fast as they'd like to, but we are getting there," Sheriff Dicus told FOX 11. 

He said authorities are focused on outlying communities, including Twin Peaks, Crestline, Arrowbear, Running Springs and Lake Arrowhead. He said his department is working with the fire department and U.S. Forest Service for search and rescue crews going door to door. On Tuesday night, the sheriff's department activated a reverse 911 call system the sheriff says will help tally stranded residents. 

RELATED: Crestline neighbors band together as frustrated community continues to dig out of snow

"I'll be able to give you more information soon as those reverse 911 calls go out. And we remind people that if they're truly in dire straits, we can deliver the necessary things they need."

The sheriff has also been criticized for turning away help from other local agencies, including a potential assist from Los Angeles County. But he says it's not what it seems. 

"We're not denying anybody. We're trying to coordinate with them so we can actually assign them to areas."

Dicus said he is actively in communication with LA County Sheriff Robert Luna about how those two agencies can best work together. 

RELATED: 'Operation Snow Angel' helps those needing supplies in San Bernardino mountains

The National Guard is also on the ground working with Cal Fire. 

San Bernardino County is offering reimbursements to residents and businesses of up to $500 to help cover what was spent on professional snow removal. You must submit photos of the completed work. To learn more about reimbursements, tap or click here.