UPDATE Saturday 28th July at 1930
The helicopters finally fell silent at about 1600, a telltale sign that the hotspots on South Ridge were under control, at least for another evening. The ridge looks beautiful tonight, clear and smoke-free, but then it did last night too.
Highway 243 from Banning will apparently reopen tomorrow for those with confirmed identification as residents of Idyllwild-Pine Cove. Unfortunately Highway 74 has much greater challenges on both sides of Mountain Center, and it remains very unclear how long it will be before that highway can reopen to anything other than emergency traffic. It’s possible we may have to deal with only one route in and out of town for several weeks.