Fire near Idyllwild nearly contained as residents return

High humidity, rainfall and the work of firefighters continued to make headway Sunday against a blaze burning in the mountains above Palm Springs.

Officials said the Mountain fire was 68% contained as darkness fell.

With fire lines around most of the blaze, officials lifted evacuation orders for the mountain communities of Idyllwild and Fern Valley and rescinded an evacuation warning for Pine Cove, all of which had been threatened by the massive conflagration that began July 15 near the junction of Highway 243 and Highway 74.

Evacuation centers also closed Sunday night, according to the Mountain Fire unified command, which includes the Riverside County Sheriff's Office and Cal Fire Riverside.

Thunderstorms dropped about 1.5 inches of rain, according to gauges near the top of the Palm Spring aerial tram, which remained closed. A flash flood watch was in effect as forecasts showed unsettled weather that could produce heavy rain through Monday night.

The fire has scorched more than 27,000 acres of chaparral and timber. In Bonita Vista, it destroyed three mobile homes and damaged several other residences. Pine Springs residents lost a commercial building, a workshop, a garage and a cabin. The fire also consumed about five vehicles and 11 outbuildings.

The fire was burning Sunday east of Mountain Center and Apple Canyon in steep and rugged terrain.


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