Updated 4:30 p.m.
A wildfire started around 3 a.m. in the San Jacinto Mountains. The Lawler Fire is in National Forest lands about four miles north of Idyllwild along Highway 243. As of 1 p.m., it has burnt about 14 or 15 acres and is approximately 70 percent contained, according to Kate Kramer, Forest Service Public Information Officer.
Full containment is estimated to be 6 p.m., Monday evening, Jan. 9, Kramer said.
The small community of Eagle’s Nest is currently threaten, but no structure has been burned or is currently endangered, Kramer said.
Traffic is being moved through the area with the assistance of a Cal Trans pilot car, Krammer added.
The initial attack which started in the dark early hours of Sunday, Jan. 8 expanded to 12 engines, two water tenders, five hand crews and air attack. More than 200 personnel from a variety of agencies are involved in containing the Lawler Fire.
While the fire is burning at a slow rate of spread, steep terrain and wind-driven fire spotting behavior are challenging fire fighters. “Fortunately this is an area where we’ve conducted major fuels reduction projects,” said Kramer. “It’s fairly defensible.” But strong winds were blowing in the area, which made the firefighting more difficult.
The winds have considerably lessened during the afternoon. Further notification of fire size and containment will probably occur in the morning, Kramer said.
The incident commander was Forest Service Battalion Chief Chris Fogle, who handed the mantle to colleague Chief Fred Espinoza.
Working with the Forest Service are Riverside County Fire and Idyllwild Fire Departments and Riverside County Office of Emergency Services, California Highway Patrol, Cal Trans and the Forest Service units from the Cleveland and Angeles National Forests.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined and is under investigation.
Rumor control: Several people have attributed the Lawler Fire cause to a "controlled" burn in the area. One writer said they saw a sign near the fire area. Kramer says there are no "Controlled" or "Prescribed" burns along the road. The last Forest Service activity in this area were some pile burns on Dec. 21.