Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mountain Fire Update 7/18 945am: Now over 22,000 acres, Fern Valley / east Idyllwild still under evacuation order

Idyllwild, California - The Mountain Fire continues to challenge firefighters as it grows to the north and south. Firefighters take advantage of reduced fire activity whenever it is possible. Last night the fire settled down enough to allow fire crews to attack the south flank of the fire directly. Crews worked hard and 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, crews made extraordinary effort building line in steep terrain toward South Peak.
The weather today remains hot and dry and the high level winds are coming out of the east. This change in wind direction aloft will be demonstrated by the top of smoke columns bending to the west. Please be aware of the possible poor air conditions that may occur in Hemet, San Jacinto and Winchester areas due to the shift in winds and adjust your outdoor activities as needed. 
The most active parts of the fire are near 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 today’s firefighting activities as both air and ground crews work to slow the rate of spread of the fire. Structure protection contingency plans are being updated in all evacuated communities. On the east side of the fire, the fire continues to slowly back down the mountain as fuels become more sparse at lower elevations.
Protection of the Idyllwild community reflects the inter-agency cooperation needed to meet the challenges of the Mountain Fire. The Idyllwild Fire Protection District, CAL FIRE, Forest Service firefighters and Riverside County Sheriffs are working together to meet the incident objectives and keep residents safe. White, red and green fire engines and crew trucks can be seen throughout the town, driving hazards on steep winding roads remain as crews move to and from the fire lines. All road closures and evacuations remain in place, please follow the direction of local authorities and their efforts to keep people safe and structures unharmed. 

Fire Facts: 
22,800 acres at 15% containment
2,985 personnel including 51 crews, 228 engines, 15 dozers and 17 helicopters
23 structures have been destroyed by fire including 7 residences during the first day of the fire.
Total cost to date is 5.5 Million dollars

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