News Update!!: Idyllwild, CA: News conference provided more information regarding the wildfire near Idyllwild, California.

News Update!!: Idyllwild, CA: News conference provided more information regarding the wildfire near Idyllwild, California.

A wildfire name, “Mountain Fire” continues to burn larger to 22,800 acres with 15 percent contained overnight Wednesday in the mountains near Idyllwild, California issuing more evacuations and thousands of people to leave their community.

**** Updated Information: ****

During a Thursday afternoon news conference, authorities provided more information regarding the “Mountain Fire” near Idyllwild, California.

** Here is what was said during a 1:00pm PT news conference: **

The wildfire is 2 miles from Palm Springs, California, but the city is not in any danger at this time.

The fire was human-caused, but authorities say they do not know the exact cause.

The fire is two and a half miles from Idyllwild, California.

The winds are coming from the east, and this along with the steep terrain between the town and the fire is what caused the evacuation.

11 air tankers, 17 helicopters and nearly 3,000 personnel assigned to fighting this fire.The Palm Springs Tram is not in danger at this time.

All but 5 percent of the people of Idyllwild, California evacuated.

There is no word on when they will implement their re-population plan.

According to Incident Commander Jeanne Pincha-Tulley, these were the “bewitching hours,” because this is when the large plume of smoke coming from the fire can drop embers almost anywhere in the area.

** More updated information coming soon. **

The wildfire has evacuated over 6,000 people and destroyed at least 23 structures and threatens 4,100 residences and 100 commercial properties.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway in Palm Springs, California is closed until further notice reportedly because of the unhealthy air quality due the the wildfire.

**** Important Notice!!: ****

Due to the rapid growth of the Mountain Fire the Riverside County Sheriffs office in cooperation with the Idyllwild Fire Protection District has issued an Evacuation Order.

The following areas are being evacuated: The communities of Idyllwild and Fern Valley, US Forest Service Campgrounds and the United States Forest Service Wilderness and the Mt. San Jacinto State Park are also included.

This evacuation notice does not include the areas of Pine Cove, Mountain Center, and Poppet Flat.

The fire has transitioned from a wind driven fire to a fuel and topography driven fire.

This condition has caused a shift in the direction of spread necessitating the evacuation as the fire moved to the west this afternoon and presents a threat to nearby communities. With vegetation moistures at record lows fire spread has been extreme and dangerous. This is the best choice in a difficult situation.

The highest priority is to protect the lives of citizens in the immediate area of the blaze.

Every possible effort is being taken to slow the fire and prepare to halt its progress. Firefighters continue to fight the fire on the ground and with helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.

Additional crews are improving contingency lines west of the fire where they may be afforded the opportunity to stop the fires advance.

Residents who are out of the area and need to return to evacuate family and retrieve valuables will be allowed through road closures with proper identification.

– Evacuation Routes:

Highway 74 to Hemet, California.
Highway 243 to Banning, California.

Highway 74 south to Anza, Palm Desert.

– Road closures:

State Highway 74 between the Pepper Trees to State Highway 371. State Route 243 at Banning, California.

– Evacuation Centers:

Hemet High School located at 41701 East Stetson Avenue in Hemet, California.

Hamilton High School located at 57430 Mitchell Road in Anza, California.

Beaumont Civic Center located at 550 East 6th Street in Beaumont, California.

The Mountain Fire continues to challenge firefighters as it grows to the north and south.

Firefighters take advantage of reduced wildfire activity whenever it is possible.

Wednesday night, the wildfire settled down enough to allow fire crews to attack the south flank of the fire directly.

The firing operation that was planned was not needed as crews built additional containment lines towards the east.

This change in tactics demonstrates the flexibility firefighters use to keep the fire size smaller and avoid adding additional fire to the mountain.

On the north flank, fire department crews made extraordinary effort building line in steep terrain toward South Peak.

The night shift did a great job Wednesday night. The weather today remains hot and dry and the high level winds are coming out of the east.

Structure protection contingency plans are being updated in all evacuated communities.

On the east side of the wildfire, the wildfire continues to slowly back down the mountain as fuels become more sparse at lower elevations.

Protection of the Idyllwild community reflects the interagency cooperation needed to meet the challenges of the Mountain Fire.

** Wildfire Information: **

The wildfire was reported at 1:43pm PT on Monday, July 15th, 2013 near the junction of Highway 243 and Highway 74 near Idyllwild, California.

The wildfire has burned 22,800 acres and is at 15 percent contained as of 7:25am PT on Thursday morning.

About 2985 firefighters, 228 fire department trucks, 17 helicopters, 10 fixed wing aircraft including a DC-10, 51 hand crews, 21 water tenders, and 15 dozers.

The Idyllwild Fire Protection District, CAL FIRE, and United States Forest Service firefighters are working together to meet the incident objectives.

White, red and green fire department trucks and crew trucks can be seen throughout the town.

The most active parts of the fire are near Red Tahquitz Peak above the community of Idyllwild and near the community of Trails End to the south.

These two areas will be the focus of todays firefighting activities as both air and ground crews work to slow the rate of spread of the fire.

Driving hazards on steep winding roads remain as crews move to and from the fire lines.

A Type 1 Incident Management Team assumed command of the fire at around 6:00pm PT on Tuesday, July 16th, 2013.

At least 23 structures have been destroyed by the wildfire.

Total cost to date of the wildfire is at $5.5 million dollars.

According to the United States Forest Service Officials, the wildfire was currently burning east of the Mountain Center and Apple Canyon Areas.

The wildfires is currently burning east of the Mountain Center and Apple Canyon Areas. It is burning in very steep and rugged terrain in the southern portion of the San Jacinto Wilderness along the Desert Divide and in the Apple Canyon and Bonita Vista Areas.

The cause of the wildfire is under investigation.

**** Wildfire Damages: ****

At least 23 structures have been destroyed by the wildfire.

A damage assessment has been completed for the Bonita Vista, Pine Springs and Zen Mountain Center areas.

** The wildfire has damaged or destroyed the following: **

– In the Bonita Vista area: a 3 mobile homes and 3 residences were destroyed, a residence sustained damage.

– In the Pine Springs area: a commercial building, a workshop, garage, and cabin were destroyed.

– In the Zen Mountain Center area: No damages.

In addition to the above list of residences, there were a total of 11 outbuildings and between 4 to 6 vehicles destroyed.

It is important to note that while homes and buildings were destroyed or damaged, firefighters were able to defend and save a larger number of homes.

** It is always important to remind homeowners that homes and building with proper clearances and fuels abatements always give firefighters better opportunities to successfully defend and save those homes, especially when defending those homes in the face of an advancing fire front. **

**** Mandatory Evacuation: ****

** News Alert!!: **

The Riverside County Sheriff in cooperation with Idyllwild Fire Protection District has issued an evacuation notice for the Idyllwild and Fern Valley area.

This does not include Pine Cove, Mountain Center, and Poppet Flats.

This Evacuation notice also includes the San Jacinto State Park Wilderness, Forest Service Wilderness and Forest Service Campgrounds.

The Trails End Community at the very top of Morris Ranch Road is under an immediate Evacuation Notice!

Idyllwild and Fern Valley is under an evacuation order, please View the following website address for more information:

http://inciweb.org/incident/article/3516/19215/

– Mandatory evacuation orders are still in effect for the Andreas Canyon Club, south of Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, for Bonita Vista, Pine Springs, and the Zen Mountain Center off of Apple Canyon Road, and Trails End at the North end of Morris Ranch Road. Camp Ronald McDonald and Camp Joe Sherman have been voluntarily evacuated due to health concerns related to air quality.

**** Emergency Evacuation Shelters: ****

– The American Red Cross has opened a shelter at Hemet High School located at 41701 East Stetson Avenue in Hemet, California.

– The American Red Cross has also opened a shelter at Hamilton High School located at 57430 Mitchell Road in Anza, California which can accept small animals.

– Small animals can be brought to the San Jacinto Animal Shelter located at 581 South Grand Avenue in San Jacinto, California.

– A large and small animal shelter has been opened at Lake Hemet Campground located at 56570 Highway 74 in Mountain Center, California.

– Beaumont Civic Center located at 550 East 6th Street in Beaumont, California. Small animals welcome.

**** Donation and Volunteer Information: ****

– American Red Cross:

www.redcross.org/donate

** Wildfire Contact Information: **

– Individuals or groups with overnight or advance day use permits into the San Jacinto Wilderness are advised to call the San Jacinto Ranger Station at: 1 (909) 382-2921.

– The latest and updated information can be found on the following the Inciweb website address:

http://inciweb.org/incident/3516/

** Traffic Alert!!: Wildfire Road, Highways, and Interstate Closures: **

– Highway 243 at Banning, California. Highway 243 is under a soft closure from Banning South to Mountain Center.

– State Highway 74 between the Pepper Trees to State Highway 371. Highway 74 is under a soft closure from the Cranston Fire Station near Valle Vista east to the junction with Highway 371.

– A soft closure is in place to allow residents access to gather items from thei homes or properties.

– The Pacific Crest Trail is closed from Highway 74 north to Saddle Junction.

– All of the trails connection to the Pacific Crest Trail are closed including South Ridge Trail, Carumba Trail, Spitler Peak Trail, Fobes Trail, and Cedar Springs.

– All Forest Service Campgrounds located along Highway 243 are closed,

The San Jacinto State Park is closed, and the San Jacinto Wilderness is closed.

– Hurkey Creek County Camground, and all of the hiking and mountain biking trails out of Hurkey creek and May Valley are closed.

** Weather from the National Weather Service near the wildfire area: **

– Thursday: Areas of smoke. Sunny, High 92*F. South wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west in the afternoon.

Thursday Night: Areas of smoke before 11:00pm PT. Partly cloudy, Low 60*F. West wind 5 to 10 mph becoming northeast after midnight.

Friday: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 11:00am PT. Some of the storms could produce gusty winds. Areas of smoke. Mostly sunny, High 91.*F East wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west in the afternoon.

Friday Night: A 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms before 11:00pm PT. Some of the storms could produce gusty winds. Partly cloudy, Low 61*F. West wind 5 to 10 mph becoming north in the evening.

More weather information for the Idyllwild, California area at the following National Weather Service website address:

http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=33.74&lon=-116.72#.UegPVuPX2_d

**** Stay tuned to ZachNews for news updates with more information regarding this news story. ****

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