Evacuations lifted as gains made on SoCal blazeThe Associated Press | July 22,2013AP 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.
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: In 1900, a crew arrives at a Scottish isle lighthouse to find the previous crew has vanished; in 1944, George S. Patton relieves Bastogne; in 1890, 'Uncle Charlie' Osborne born; in 1891, Henry Miller born in New York.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Capt. James Cook discovers and names Christmas Island, Brits develop and test H-bombs there in 1957-58; 100 years ago today, Christmas truce takes hold on Western Front in France, combatants observe the holiday.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Gen. Wm. T. Sherman concludes March to the Sea, secures Savannah, Ga., offers the city as Christmas gift to Pres. Lincoln; N.Y.'s Lincoln Tunnel opens in 1937; first gorilla born in captivity, Colo, celebrates 58th birthday today.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Brent Curtis reports on the probe into a city bar fight involving police officers; Vt. Yankee has its last media day event before final shutdown next week; Depot Park hosts annual vigil to raise awareness of plight of homeless.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Vermont Gas Systems puts Phase 2 on hold as the latest estimate for Phase 1 takes a 27 percent leap upward, to a total of $157 million; U.S. Attorney Tristram Coffin quits for job with private firm; police cite man in pot bust.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: In 1972, Christmas bombing of North Vietnam ordered by President Richard Nixon, most lethal strikes of the war; in 1989, U.S. invades Panama to depose, arrest and charge Gen. Manuel Noriega with drug trafficking, racketeering.