Longtime resident Dave Jones was back in his Southern California home a day after evacuating, but remained ready to leave as a huge wildfire fire threatened to top a ridge near his mostly empty mountain town.
The walls were bare in the home where he’s lived for the past 40 years after the 64-year-old and his wife stowed the valuable mementos, along with more practical items, like clothes, jewelry, medicines and the computer hard drive before heading to their son’s home in nearby Hemet.
“The fire came right up by the ridge yesterday afternoon, gave everybody a pretty good scare that it was going to come down the hill,” Jones said Thursday night.
The last time he evacuated for a fire it was 1997, and he stayed away for four days. Jones said he considered the order he got Wednesday “a light evacuation” and wasn’t afraid because he knows of a controlled dirt road to use as “an escape route” if fire does come down that ridge.
Forest Service spokesman John Miller said firefighters had made “great progress” by late Thursday night given the tough conditions and terrain, and evacuations were called off for a small handful of the thousands under orders to leave.
But the 35-square-mile blaze remained just 15 percent contained and had been growing in an atypical manner. The majority of the 3,300 fire fighters are on the western flank of the fire, near Idyllwild.
“Usually it cools down at night and we get more humidity. That hasn’t happened,” said Tina Rose, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “It’s been burning like it’s daytime for 72 hours in a row.”
Temperatures were expected to dip into the 60s overnight before creeping up into the 80s on Friday.
“What we’re concerned about is what you see right here,” said U.S Forest Service Fire Chief Jeanne Pincha-Tulley, pointing to a hazy sky. “When you get a column that puts out this much smoke, embers get into the column and can drop anywhere.”
She added the column was expected to go right over Idyllwild for the next two days. While authorities said only 5 percent of the town rebuffed evacuating, they cautioned they might not be able to help those who remain if conditions worsen.
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox US News