UPDATE Monday 30th July 2018 at 1430
The San Jacinto Trail Report will steadily transition back to its primary objective (trail information) over the next couple of days. However a handful of quick pieces of fire-related news follow.
Helicopters continue to move back-and-forth across Idyllwild making water drops in the South Ridge area, but at greatly reduced intensity compared to recent days. Barely any smoke was visible up there at dawn this morning, and town was almost smoke-free.
Ground crews were deployed in the high country yesterday, primarily in the north-east area of the fire front (e.g., Red Tahquitz). The main visible smoke this morning was on the north-west side of Red Tahquitz, where the fire had marginally slopped over the east-west Tahquitz ridge into areas largely burned by the Mountain Fire in 2013.
Some residents returned yesterday with the evacuation order lifted for Idyllwild-Pine Cove, including almost all our immediate neighbours. Many part-time residents continued to stay off the hill however, allowing for a more gentle transition into “normal” town life. The Post Office, USFS Idyllwild Ranger Station, and some businesses and restaurants are reopening today. The Mount San Jacinto State Park headquarters remains closed.
The only road into Idyllwild remains Highway 243 from Banning. The original plan was to restrict access today to only residents plus commercial traffic, but non-residents are now being allowed access via Hwy 243 also.
Highway 74 on both sides of Mountain Center, and Highway 243 from Mountain Center to Idyllwild, remain closed. Highway 74 to Hemet will apparently remain closed for a minimum of another week (per CalTrans), after which traffic will be subject to flag and flow controls for at least two months. In the burn areas along Highway 74, Southern California Edison has to replace over 120 power poles, including more than 90 using aerial lifts by helicopter. I’m hearing anything between a minimum of two to four weeks to complete that work. In summary, the three road routes out of Mountain Center will be subject to continuing significant disruption for weeks or probably months.
Finally, many thanks to the dozens of people who contacted the San Jacinto Trail Report in recent days to say thank you for our accurate and detailed coverage of developments during the Cranston Fire. We did the best we could in challenging circumstances. Special thanks to Steven Morris and Martha Ludlum, and to Chrissy King, for their generous donations in recent days to help maintain this website. Donations are always accepted at this page! A full list of website supporters is always maintained here.
Thanks to all, and safe hiking. Jon.