July 18, 2013 6:00 PM Fire Update #4
Incident: Mountain Wildfire
FIRE UPDATE #4 July 18, 2013 6:00 P.M.
Day three of the Mountain Fire firefighters made great progress in rocky terrain and high temperatures. As expected, winds aloft came down from the east and caused fire to spread in multiple directions. To the north, the fire continued significant progression in the Tahquitz meadows area, but was held at the ridge with crews working the edge of the fire and aircraft aggressively applying water and retardant at the head of the fire throughout the day. Two MAFFS (Mobile Airborne Fire Fighting System) units have been deployed to great effect. These are C 130 aircraft flown by the 146th Airwing of the California National Guard in the Channel Islands. As weather conditions continue to change the fire remains active on the northwest and continues to threaten the community of Idyllwild. At the southern flank, firefighters continued to protect communities by ensuring that backing fire did not build enough heat to create dangerous smoke columns.
Tonight, firefighters will continue to build on the progress made on containment lines. The fire remains active in the north above Idyllwild and south near Trails End. As temperatures cool, crews plan to take advantage of cooler weather. Nighttime air operations will continue and have been very effective supporting crews working the line.
Residents have been allowed to return to the Apple Canyon and Bonita Vista areas as the threat to that area has diminished. As of this evening, Hwy 74 is open to traffic. Caution is urged as fire operations are still ongoing and traffic may be heavy, particularly in the morning. A hard closure is still in place on Hwy 243 south of Pine Cove—from the Nature Center to the intersection of Hwy 243 and Hwy 74.
Red Cross evacuation centers (888-831-0031) have been welcoming residents, visitors, and others in evacuated areas—7 people overnight at Hamilton High School, over 800 overnight at Hemet High School, and 116 overnight at Beaumont High School. The danger is real and losses of home and business are tragic; however, spirits remain high and smiles are still readily at hand. Evacuated campers at the Beaumont High School location continue to plan events and sing songs; Riverside County volunteers at Hemet High School entertain children with board games, hula hoops, and basketball. “We want you to make sure to tell the men and women out there that we’re praying for their safety,” stated one of the evacuees at Beaumont High School.
22,800 acres at 15% containment3,316 personnel including 53 crews, 263 engines, 11 dozers, and 19 helicopters23 structures have been destroyed by fire including 7 residences during the first day of the fireTotal cost to date is 6.1 million dollars