Friday, August 09, 2013

San Jacinto Mountains Wildfire

The latest wildfire raging through a rugged Southern California San Jacinto Mountains range has already destroyed 26 homes and was threatening more than 500 other residences, forcing some 1,800 people to evacuate. More than 1,400 firefighters and nine helicopters battled the flames as they pushed eastward along the San Jacinto Mountains, a desert range 90 miles east of Los Angeles.  The blaze was heading toward the desert town of Cabazon and was estimated at nearly 22 square miles Thursday with 20 percent containment

Along with Cabazon, the evacuation orders covered two camping areas and the rural communities of Poppet Flats, Twin Pines, Edna Valley and Vista Grande.

A helicopter drops water over a wildfire on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013, in Cabazon, Calif. AP Photo | Jae C. Hong
A helicopter drops water over a wildfire
 on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013, in Cabazon, Calif.
 (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

It was the second major wildfire in the San Jacinto Mountains this summer. A blaze that erupted in mid-July spread over 43 square miles on peaks above Palm Springs, burned seven homes and forced 6,000 people out of Idyllwild and neighboring towns.

The latest fire also burned in the footprint of the notorious Esperanza Fire, a 2006, wind-driven inferno that overran a U.S. Forest Service engine crew. All five crew members died. A man was convicted of setting the fire and sentenced to death.

After touring the area, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who lives in Riverside County, said 165,000 acres have burned in California this year and climate change is setting conditions for more disastrous blazes, while budget cuts are limiting resources to fight them. (MSN, 8/9/2013)

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