Friday, August 28, 2009

Cottonwood Fire — Day 2

The most recent information will be posted at the top of this blog. If you read from the bottom up, you’ll get a sense of how the situation and emotions are changing during the day.

For those who want a more "official" report on the fire stituation that also includes a map of the fire's location, you can visit the Forest Service's Website that tracks all active fires in the U.S.

Go to the following URL:

6:30 p.m.
The Cottonwood Fire is now at 2,200 acres and only 10% contained. Temperature is 108 degrees. Winds are at 7 to 11 mph with gusts of up to 20 mph and moving westerly. Humidity is at 3%.

6 p.m.
The mandatory evacuations for Willowbrook Road in Valle Vista have been lifted. The Cottonwood Fire is still at 1,200 acres and only 5% contained. It is about 1 mile east of Cranston Guard Station and 4 miles east of Hemet. The cause is under investigation.

12:32 p.m.
The Cottonwood Fire is now at 1,200 acres and still only 5% contained.

9:50 a.m.
Idyllwild Fire Chief Steve Kunkle has all of his vehicles staffed and about 19 firefighters active currently. That includes several from the City of Hemet.

“Because of the new relationship with Hemet [the dispatch service], we have extra help,” Kunkle said.

Regarding the rumor that buses have been chartered to evacuate the town or camps, IFPD doesn't know anything about charter buses. Individual camps may be requesting buses as their own precautions.

Kunkle is monitoring the fire and in communication with Idyllwild Arts about the status of Jazz in the Pines, scheduled for tomorrow. Currently, it is still a go!

7:30 a.m.
The latest Forest Service information from John Miller, public information officer:

Overnight, the Cottonwood Fire grew to 1,000 acres and containment is 5 percent.

The good news — Big Bear Hot Shots did a great job overnight working the eastern perimeter. This could abate the fire’s movement in this direction, but all of us, including the firefighters, are totally dependent upon what we can’t control — Mother Nature and the winds.

The fire is moving at a moderate rate of speed in a northern direction. It grew on the west and northwest edge of the fire away from Idyllwild overnight.
From Miller’s perspective at Cranston Guard Station in Valle Vista this morning, the fire’s most active area is its western flank.

The overnight winds drove the fire away from Idyllwild.

Bad news — Highway 74 from Valle Vista to Mountain Center is closed and anticipated to remain closed through the weekend. When you see the equipment being used to protect us, you understand that the trucks have to parked along the highway. Traffic control is a lower priority (this is JP's opinion) while they are trying to gain control of the fire.

Remember or learn —— NO evacuation orders are in effect for Idyllwild, Pine Cove or the Hill, stay calm, close to home and be prepared. Enjoy your morning beverage and share some thoughts online.

The only evacuations have been voluntary. Those are five people in the lower Bee Canyon area. As of 8:30, a mandatory evacuation was issued for Willowbrook Road in Valle Vista east of Hemet

From the Forest Service Cottonwood Update:
Staffing: 320

20 Engines, 9 Crews, 1 Dozer, 5 Air Tankers, 3 Helicopters and 3 Water

Terrain/vegetation/difficulties: Steep and rocky terrain; heavy fuels (chaparral)

Current situation: The Cottonwood Fire is approximately 1 mile east of Cranston and 10 miles east of Hemet in the San Jacinto Mountains, currently at 1,000 acres and a moderate rate of spread. Highway 74 is closed from Borco Street to Highway 243 and voluntary evacuations are in place in the vicinity of Bee Canyon. Before sunset, fixed and rotary wing aircraft dropped fire retardant and water to slow the forward progression of the fire. Ground resources will work through the night. Aircraft will be on at daybreak.

Evacuations: A dozen homes (five people) were evacuated under voluntary evacuation.


  1. This is good news to wake up to, thank you. We look forward to your updates through the day.

  2. Thanks for the morning update. Any word on what the fire and road closure is going to mean for the jazz festival?

  3. 10:008am - So far, so good! Thank you for giving us a place to find out what is going on. I still dont smell any smoke here on Country Club Drive. I love our fire fighters! Madly love them!

  4. Our house burned in the Cedar Fire. It is so good to know that so many wonderful people are working together to keep our Idyllwild home safe. Our neighbor notified our relatives at the cabin now. Thanks to all of you!


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