UPDATED 6AM MONDAY, AUGUST 6, 2018
With nearly full containment holding for several days now, officials are indicating the Cranston Fire itself is now less of a threat to Idyllwild-area mountain communities than the aftermath yet to come.
In its latest update released Sunday evening (8/5/18), the U.S. Forest Service reported Cranston Fire statistics holding at 96% contained at 13,139 acres burned, unchanged from late last week. The USFS reports personnel assigned to help fight the blaze has been reduced from nearly 2,000 at the fire’s peak last week, down to to 160 as of Sunday, with 5 water-tending helicopters assisting.
On Saturday, the Forest Service issued a statement saying that while progress has been made controlling smoldering fuels, reinforcing fire lines, restoring power, and clearing and reopening roads - preparations must begin immediately for "emergency stabilization measures to be taken before the first major rain storms."
Authorities confirmed an official "Burned Area Response (BAER) Team" arrived in Idyllwild-area Forest-Service watersheds on Sunday. The USFS statement said, "Fires result in loss of vegetation, increased potential for erosion and increased water runoff that may lead to flooding, increased sediment, debris flows, damage to infrastructure and critical natural and cultural resources."
The Cranston Fire was first reported on Wednesday, July 25. It destroyed 12 buldings, damaged 5 others, and injured 3 firefighters.
Officials have lifted all restrictions on Highway 243. However, travel on Highway 74 between Lake Hemet and Mountain Center, and between Mountains Center and Valle Vista/Hemet, remains restricted, with delays of up to 45 minutes between escort-required travel between those points. Authorities also reminded drivers that impatience, passing out of line, or separating from the line of traffic may make delays worse.
Following is the text of the U.S. Forest Service’s latest Cranston Fire update on Sunday evening:
“Firefighters are monitoring all portions of the fire lines; please do not call 911 to report smoke within the burned area. This places an undue burden on local first responders. Stump holes and large woody debris will continues to smolder due to single digit fuel-moisture levels and warm, dry weather conditions.
“Repair of dozer lines is nearing completion in the Apple Canyon and Fobes Ranch roads. Riverside Country Roads Department is nearing completion of road repair in / around the fire area. Demobilization or reassignment of excess firefighters and equipment began today and will continue through the week.
“A Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Team has begun an assessment of burned watersheds to identify post-wildfire threats to human life and safety, damage to property/infrastructure and critical natural or cultural resources on National Forest System lands. This will provide a list of emergency stabilization measures to be taken before the first major rain storms. BAER maps and reports will be available online after the team has completed their assessments.
“Highways: Please use caution, stay focused on driving and not looking at the burned area! Highway 243 is open to all traffic with no restrictions. Highway 74 will have pilot vehicle escorts between Lake Hemet and Mountain Center; and between Mountain Center and Valle Vista/Hemet. Do not pass other vehicles and do not separate from the line of traffic as this may cause additional delays. Motorists should expect up to 45-minute delays due to sign and guardrail replacement. To check current highway conditions, please go to http://www.dot.ca.gov/or Twitter @Caltrans8 .
"Power Outages: Full power was restored to customers of the Anza Electric Co-op at 8:55 p.m. on Friday, August 4. Southern California has also completed all repairs to their lines."
“Reduced Forest Closure Order: The majority of popular hiking trails, campgrounds and forest roads on the San Jacinto District and Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument are open. Recreational sites that remain closed include the South Ridge Trail, the South Ridge Road, the May Valley trails system and a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. For more information, please view the Forest Closure Order and the Forest Closure Order Map. For planning a trip to Idyllwild, be sure to visit the San Jacinto District webpage.
“San Jacinto Mountains State Park: All campgrounds and hiking trails are open.
“Riverside County Parks: The Idyllwild Nature Center is open. Hurkey Creek Park and Idyllwild Regional Park remain closed for weekend of August 4. Please check http://www.rivcoparks.org for updates.”