Update 1:34 p.m.: Concerns turn to flash-flooding of burn areas
The heavy rain affecting much of Riverside County has brought relief to fire officials, and stoked new concerns of flash-flooding in some areas where vegetation has been scorched.
The National Weather Service is asking residents to monitor conditions and take precautions should things change. The warning will be in effect through Monday evening.
Update 10:25 a.m.: Evacuations lifted for Idyllwild, Fern Valley
Riverside fire officials say they are lifting evacuation orders for the communities of Idyllwild and Fern Valley as of 11:00 a.m. this morning. They've also called off an evacuation for the Pine Cove area after steady progress on Saturday and heavy rainfall Sunday reduced the threat to area residents.
Residents returning home should do so through one of three Distribution Centers, sheriff's officials said. The department will issue passes that will allow returnees to enter checkpoints outside the evacuated areas. The centers are located at:
- Lake Hemet Market, 56571 State Highway 74, Mountain Center, CA 92561
- Banning High School, 100 W. Westward Ave, Banning, CA 92220
- Cranston Forest Service Station #54, Highway 74 and Rouse Hill Truck Trail, Hemet, CA
The department says deputies will need to see identification in order to issue a pass, though they'll be handling requests on a case-by-case basis.
Update 8:35 a.m.: Crews gain on fire near Idyllwild amid rain, humidity
Heavy rain and lightning could benefit firefighters battling a 27,245 acre blaze that was roughly 49 percent contained Sunday morning, U.S. Forest Service officials said Sunday.
The rainfall near Palm Springs had been expected, but also sparked concerns potential flooding could cause mudslides or limit access, according to media reports.
Now in its seventh day, the fire near Idyllwild, Fern Valley and Pine Cove now in its seventh day and Idyllwild, Fern Valley and Pine Cove has destroyed at least 23 structures, including seven homes.
But this morning, area officials were also keeping an eye on the rain, which had been forecast.
"I'm guessing it's more help than hurt,'' said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Sheldon Keafer, who had not been informed of any adverse effects from the rain this morning.
East winds forecast for overnight hours brought an increased chance of rain and a flash flood watch, "as even relatively moderate amounts of rain can cause soil erosion in burned areas,'' fire officials said earlier . "If there is rain at higher elevations, Herkey Creek could experience high flows, creating additional hazards for firefighters,'' they said.
Some 3,347 firefighters were on the scene, including 228 engines, 68 crews, 11 bulldozers and 20 helicopters, fire officials said. The night crews were expected to "reinforce and build containment lines,'' officials said.
The estimated date of full containment was Friday, July 26, at midnight.
Firefighters made "tremendous progress'' containing the fire Saturday,'' officials said. "With higher humidity and lower temperatures, firefighters were able to make significant gains in the area above Trails End.'' they said.
Evacuations remained in Idyllwild and Fern Valley and an evacuation warning held for Pine Creek, officials said. Evacuation orders were lifted for the communities of Trails End and Camp Joe Scherman, Apple Canyon, Bonita Vista, Fobes Canyon and Pine Springs Ranch.
State Highway 74 remained open, Fobes Ranch Road was reopened, but State Highway 243 was closed from State Highway 74 to the Nature Center south of Pine Cove.