Mountain fire near Idyllwild burns through 24,818 acres
The Mountain fire blazing south of Idyllwild continued to grow, reaching 24,818 acres and 15% containment as some evacuated residents were allowed to return home.
Those living in the Apple Canyon and Bonita Vista areas were permitted to head home Thursday night. Highway 74 was open to traffic, but a portion of Highway 243 remained closed.
Firefighters focused on the northwest side of the fire Thursday night, in efforts to protect the community of Idyllwild, authorities said.
The Idyllwild and Fern Valley areas remained under an evacuation notice, as did the San Jacinto Park Wilderness and Trails End Community.
Crews were hoping Thursday to take advantage of cooler nighttime temperatures and rising relative humidity in their efforts to contain the wildfire burning in rugged, steep terrain.
They were being aided by U.S. Forest Service contract helicopters that were making repeated water drops Thursday night, said agency spokesman Sheldon Keafer.
Much of the fire activity has been within the perimeter of the blaze.
The blaze “has been creeping along the edges,” Keafer told The Times.
The fire broke out Monday afternoon as flames raced across dry chaparral, underbrush and trees. Investigators said they believed the blaze was man-made but had not determined a precise cause.
More that 3,300 firefighters were battling the blaze. On Thursday, they were assisted by 19 helicopters and 10 aerial tankers. Three firefighters were treated for minor injuries.
Thick clouds of smoke prompted officials to close the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.
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