Sunday Update: Cranston Fire 29% Contained At 13,130 Acres; Evacuations Lifted For Much Of Idyllwild
UPDATED AT 10:30AM SUNDAY, JULY 29, 2018
Authorities on Sunday (7/29) morning reported the fight against the Cranston Fire has made "substantial progress," and are beginning to allow many of the more than 6,000 people who were evacuated from the Idyllwild/Pine Cove area to return to their homes.
As of this morning (7/29), the Cranston Fire has been held to 13,130 acres and is 29% contained. Personnel assigned to help fight the fire has increased to more than 1,700, up from just over 1,000 on Thursday, the day after the fire was first reported just before noon Wednesday, July 25, 2018. The number of aircraft fighting the Cranston Fire also has about doubled since Thursday, now up to 15 helicopters and 10 fixed-wing aircraft.
The Unified Command supervising the multiple agencies helping to fight the Cranston Fire said in an e-mail statement Sunday morning that, "the repopulation of the Pine Cove, Fern Valley, Cedar Glen, and portions of Idyllwild outside of the fire perimeter took place this morning. This morning, persons with proof of residency will be permitted through the fire closure checkpoint on Highway 243 to access the Idyllwild/Pine Cove area. Repopulation of the area is being done in a methodical process to ensure the safety of the residents and responders on the incident. The portions of Garner Valley south of Morris Ranch Road were repopulated last night. Full access to Garner Valley south of Morris Ranch Road has been restored."
Mandatory evacuations remain in effect for Mountain Center, Hurkey Creek, San Jacinto Mountain State Park and Garner Valley north of Morris Ranch Road under a mandatory evacuation.
Highway 243 between Banning and Mountain Center remains closed except for those residents being repopulated to the area today (Sunday). More information and details for local residents is available at this link.
Authorities also said that Caltrans crews have been working to remove hazardous trees along roads, and that Southern California Edison has been working to restore power to those areas still without electricity.
Shortly after the Cranston Fire was reported midday Wednesday, authorities arrested a man suspected of having started the fire. 32-year-old Brandon Mc Glover of Temecula has been charged by the Riverside County District Attorney with 15 counts of arson. McGlover is being held on a million dollars bail. [UPDATE: On Friday, The Press-Enterprise reported that, in his first court appearance, McGlover entered pleas of not guilty on all counts. The suspect's bail was increased to $3.5 million.]
Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in Riverside County, which will aid local authorities in getting state and federal resources to help pay for the fight against the blaze.
At it's peak late last week, nearly 5,000 structures were threatened by the blaze. 6,000 people were evacuated from the mountain communities along Highways 243 and 74. Highway 74 was closed from Lake Hemet to Highway 243 in Mountain Center, and Highway 243 was closed from the 10 Freeway in Banning to Highway 74 in Mountain Center. Authorities are still regulating who is being allowed past roadblocks as the controlled repopulation of a limited number of areas continues.
Thursday, as the blaze continued spread quickly, all campgrounds in the area were closed and evacuated. Authorities in Palm Springs yesterday ordered the closure of the Palm Springs Ariel Tramway until further notice. The Cranston Fire was burning several miles south of the tram’s mountain station on Mt. San Jacinto, but an abundance of caution – and a lot of smoke hanging in the air above the Coachella Valley – prompted the tram’s closure.
There was another fire reported burning southwest of the Cranston Fire. At last report Friday, the so-called Ribbon Fire scorched about 200 acres and was 45% contained along Highway 74 near the community of Pinyon Pines.
By the end of the week, the South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory for the Inland Empire and the Coachella Valley, due to heavy smoke and ash coming from the mountain blazes. Temperatures in the areas where the fires are burning were expected to be in the 90s to near 100 degrees through the weekend.