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Mountain Fire: Evacuation orders lifted, weather helps crews make progress

July 21, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Mandatory evacuation orders have been lifted for residents in Idyllwild and Fern Valley as firefighters continue to make progress in the Mountain Fire.

There was no growth on the fire overnight, according to Lee Beyer with the U.S. Forest Service. The fire has burned 27,265 acres and stands at 68 percent containment. Containment is expected Wednesday. The total cost of the fire to date is $20.1 million, fire officials say.

Mother Nature played a role in the progress overnight. Beyer says hot, dry winds and low relative humidity worked against crews at first, but Sunday's increased humidity slowed the flames, and moisture and rain over the area also helped.

"That, again, is making a huge difference in our ability to go direct and really put this thing to bed," said Beyer.

On Sunday night, hazards remained in burned areas due to flash flooding and mudslides. Due to severe weather conditions, firefighters were patrolling the fire and monitoring hot spots and flare-ups.

The command post spans at least 6 acres and is made up of sheriff's deputies and about 1,861 firefighters from all over the western states, including Nevada and Arizona. Originally, over 3,000 personnel were on scene.

Evacuations were lifted Saturday for the communities of Trails End and Camp Joe Scherman. Apple Canyon, Bonita Vista, Fobes Canyon, and Pine Springs Ranch areas were also open to residents.

The Riverside County Office of Emergency Services on Friday put out an advisory for residents in the Pine Springs Ranch and Zen Center telling them to boil their water due to contamination from the Mountain Fire. Officials say the problem should be resolved in the next two to three days.

Twenty-three structures have been destroyed, including seven homes. Fire officials said three mobile homes and three other residences were destroyed in Bonita Vista. In Pine Springs, one commercial building, a workshop, garage and cabin were destroyed. Eleven outbuildings and several vehicles also were destroyed.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation but authorities say the wildfire was "human-caused."

Road closures

State Highway 243 has re-opened to residents and business owners of the Idyllwild and Fern Valley communities. State Highway 243 will remain closed to the general public from the intersection of State Highway 74 to the Nature Center, south of Pine Cove, until 11 p.m. Fobes Ranch Road has re-opened to traffic as has State Highway 74.


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