• Evacuations lifted as gains made on SoCal blaze
    The Associated Press | July 22,2013
    • Email Article
    •  
    •  Print Article
     
    AP PHOTO

    Firefighters with Firestorm Wildland Fire Suppresion Inc., from northern California, tie up hundreds of hoses as crews made overnight progress against the Mountain Fire near Idyllwild, Calif., Saturday.
    IDYLLWILD, Calif. — Thousands of people were allowed to return to their homes in Southern California mountain communities near Palm Springs on Sunday, after firefighters aided by heavy rain made substantial progress against a week-old wildfire that has burned across 42 square miles and destroyed seven homes.

    The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department lifted evacuation orders at 11 a.m. for the communities of Idyllwild, Fern Valley and Pine Cove, from which thousands had fled the advancing flames five days before. Authorities said only local residents and business people would be allowed to return.

    Evacuation orders for several smaller nearby communities had been lifted earlier in the day.

    Some 6,000 people fled the idyllic little towns that dot the San Jacinto Mountains between Palm Springs and Hemet after the fire broke out today and quickly raged across the heavily wooded area. Twenty-three structures, including the seven homes, were destroyed. There were no reports of injuries.

    With the arrival of an inch and a half rain Sunday, firefighters began to beat back the flames and had the blaze 49 percent contained.

    “With diminished fire activity, firefighters made great progress with line construction, particularly along the east side towards Palm Springs,” said U.S. Forest Service spokesman John Miller.

    The fire was still far from extinguished, however.

    The thunderstorm helping douse the flames could also bring lightning, wind and flooding, said Miller, all hazardous conditions for fire crews.

    The fire was less than two miles from Idyllwild on its western flank. It was a similar distance from Palm Springs below on the desert floor, where an enormous plume of smoke could be seen.

    The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which carries people nearly 6,000 feet up a rugged canyon to a mountain peak overlooking the tourist resort, was closed Sunday because of unhealthy air quality. Crews were also building fire breaks in the area.

    Authorities have said the fire was human-caused, but wouldn’t say whether it was accidental or intentional.

    More than 2,600 firefighters battled the blaze Sunday, using bulldozers, helicopters and other equipment.
    • Email Article
    •  
    •  Print Article
    2 Comments
    MORE IN Wire News
    HOUSTON — Prosecutors on Saturday charged a 30-year-old man with capital murder in the killing... Full Story
    Man charged in shooting death of Texas deputy
    ROSEAU, Dominica — Rescue crews jumped off boats and trudged Saturday through mud, rocks and... Full Story
    Dominica digs out from storm; 20 killed
    CAIRO — An Egyptian court sentenced three Al-Jazeera English journalists to three years n prison... Full Story
    Egypt sentences three reporters to 3 years
    More Articles