Firefighters Make Progress Battling Cranston Fire, Now 82 Percent Contained

posted by City News Service - 

IDYLLWILD (CNS) - A wildfire in the Idyllwild area is 82 percent contained today after charring 13,139 acres, with full containment expected on Aug. 9, authorities said.

More than 1,200 firefighters are battling the Cranston Fire, focused on mopping up along the fire's edge to prevent any flames from escaping containment lines and on completing a containment line on the northeast portion of the fire, where the most significant threat to the community existed, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Full containment is estimated on or around Aug. 9, according to Cal Fire.

Residents of the Mountain Center, Apple Canyon and Lake Hemet areas remain evacuated, but fire officials continue to evaluate whether to allow them to return.

Residents on Sunday were allowed to return to mountain hamlets at Pine Cove, Cedar Glen and Fern Valley, as far south as Idyllwild. And on the southwest flank of the danger area, residents were allowed to return to some evacuated ranches north of Anza.

Emergency management officials warned those entering previously evacuated areas to watch for charred trees, utility poles and other debris on the roads.

All U.S. Forest Service lands in the San Jacinto Ranger District and the adjacent Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument were ordered closed to public entry for 30 days. Highway 74 remains closed between Borco Street in Hemet and Morris Ranch Road in Garner Valley. Road closures also remain in effect on state Highway 243 south of Banning from Lower Saunders Meadow Road to Highway 74.

The Palms To Pines Highway between San Diego County and the Coachella Valley remains open.

Caltrans began work over the weekend to repair damage to state Routes 74 and 243 under a $5 million emergency contract.

Three firefighters were injured battling the blaze, which began just before noon Wednesday off Highway 74 in the San Jacinto Mountains between Hemet and Mountain Center, just east of the Cranston Fire Station.

About 4,900 structures were threatened at one point, with 12 buildings destroyed and five others damaged at the outset of the blaze, which investigators believe was deliberately set by a suspect accused of starting nine arson fires in southwest Riverside County on the same day. Brandon N. McGlover, 32, of Temecula, was arrested about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday near Newport Road and State Street in Hemet.

McGlover, who's being held in lieu of $3.5 million bail, was charged Friday with 15 felony counts -- one count of aggravated arson, five counts of arson of an inhabited structure, and nine counts of arson of forest or wildland. He pleaded not guilty and is due back in court Sept. 24 for a felony settlement conference.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday issued a state of emergency declaration of Riverside County, clearing the way to provide needed state resources to battle the blaze, which has damaged two miles of Southern California Edison power lines, causing electrical outages in Anza and surrounding unincorporated areas in Riverside County. Edison crews installed many new power poles Monday.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which takes visitors to Mt. San Jacinto State Park, reopened at 10 a.m. Monday.

Authorities issued a smoke advisory for the region through Tuesday morning, advising that winds could bring smoke into various parts of Riverside County, including the Coachella Valley, Banning Pass, the Hemet/San Jacinto Valley, Perris Valley and Anza.

The public can call (909) 383-5688 for information.

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