Containment of the Falls fire near Lake Elsinore in Riverside County jumped to 73% overnight after crews were able to take advantage of cooler temperatures, higher humidity and more reinforcements on the ground.
Firefighting crews were able to make “really, really good” progress on building and reinforcing fire containment lines in the steep, rugged terrain, fire spokesman Marc Peebles said Wednesday.
Full containment of the Falls fire, which has burned more than 1,400 acres, was expected Friday, he added. The fire started mid-morning Monday.
The mandatory evacuations of residents ordered during the early stages of the fire were lifted Tuesday. State Highway 74 has also been reopened, but only to residents, and even then, they must abide by a specific schedule and be escorted by the California Highway Patrol.
The fire had only been about 30% contained as of Tuesday evening, but an influx of ground support allowed incident commanders to reinforce firefighting crews and make significant headway.
As of Wednesday, there were 1,118 firefighting personnel battling the blaze, as well as three water-dropping helicopters and two fixed-wing aircraft fighting from above, according to Peebles.
There were also 786 engines and other ground resources assigned to the blaze.
Peebles said there was still a lot of work confronting crews in the Decker Canyon area, which due to its “very, very steep, very, very rugged” terrain was going to be “slow going.”
“That’s a lot of work,” he said.
Four firefighters had so far been treated and released at local hospitals while battling the blaze -- one for a shoulder injury, the other three due to heat-related ailments, Peebles added.
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