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Yucaipa-area residents allowed home

September 2, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Yucaipa-area residents are allowed home after authorities lift wildfire evacuations. Both mandatory and recommended evacuation orders for about 3,000 homes were lifted Wednesday evening.

The 1,159-acre Oak Glen Fire was 75 percent contained and the 860-acre Pendleton Fire was 95 percent contained Wednesday afternoon.

The surface street road closures were taken down at 6 p.m.

Firefighters made good progress thanks to cooler weather and higher humidity. They were able to beat back both the Pendleton and Oak Glen fires without losing a single home.

Devon Riley owns one of the many orchards in Oak Glen. Besides not losing any homes, Riley doesn't think they lost one apple tree either.

"Fortunately I think the hand of God was in it because it avoided the greenest, prettiest trees ... the cedar trees are still here," said Riley. "And all the scenic vistas are all still here."

However the fire could have become a major disaster if it crossed into the San Bernardino National Forest.

"If it were to cross Oak Glen Road, not only were we going to endanger the majority of the community of Oak Glen, we were going to have a very dynamic fire situation that was going to go several thousand more acres because of inaccessibility," said Battalion Chief Steve Beach, CAL FIRE.

However, firefighters seem to have prevented such a situation.

"It doesn't matter what we make for a living ... it doesn't matter what they pay us. When someone comes up to you with a sincere look in their eye and says thank you and shakes their hand, it's all that matters," said Chief Beach.

Fire officials say they will be attempting to open all of the roads in the next couple of days.

There will be a community meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday at the Yucaipa Community Center for residents about the latest developments in the brush fires. The center is located at 34900 Oak Glen Road.

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