IDYLLWILD (CNS) - For the third straight day, evacuation orders were issued today for residents living in the Cranston Fire burn area due to thunderstorm conditions, with flood and mudslide risks exacerbated by hillsides stripped of vegetation by the arson-caused blaze.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning, in effect until 6:15 p.m., for the San Bernardino National Forest area, including the cities of Idyllwild, Pine Cove, Anza, Mountain Center, as well as roadways that include state Route 243 between Banning and Idyllwild, and state Route 74 between Hemet and Mountain Center. Flash flooding was also possible in the San Gorgonio Pass near Cabazon and the Whitewater River heading towards the Coachella Valley, according to a mid-afternoon NWS forecast.
Up to 1 1/2 inches of rainfall was predicted for the area, which forecasters said would ``likely result in debris flow moving through Hurkey Creek and Strawberry Creek and other smaller streams.''Debris flow possibly consisting of rocks, mud, vegetation and other loose materials could present risks for mountain residents, according to the NWS.
Evacuation orders were issued this afternoon for residents near Hurkey Creek, Apple Canyon, Fleming Ranch and Strawberry Creek. Residents were advised to use state Route 74 towards Palm Desert or northbound state Route 243 to exit the area. Similar evacuation orders were issued Wednesday and Thursday, but were only active for a few hours each day before being rescinded when the rains let up.
Some roads near the burn area were also closed Friday, including state Route 74 at the Cranston Fire Station, state Route 74 at Morris Ranch and state Route 243 at Saunders Meadow Road. A community meeting will be held tonight to update residents living in the burn area regarding flash flood risks and what safety measures residents should consider in the face of ongoing thunderstorm conditions. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at the Idyllwild School Gym, 26700 Highway 243.
Regional rainfall was expected to decrease later tonight, but could return around Monday or Tuesday, following a sunny weekend, forecasters said.
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