Dipping for water at Idyllwild Water's Foster Lake. Photo by Steve Kunkle, courtesy of Terry Lyons

The Lawler Fire, which started Sunday, Jan. 8, was at 95 percent containment Monday evening. The burned acreage is about 14 acres within the San Jacinto Ranger District of the San Bernardino National Forest, according to Kate Kramer, Forest Service Public Information Officer.

The small community of Eagle’s Nest is no longer still threatened, The fire is about four miles north of Idyllwild in the Dark Canyon drainage area.

“It hasn’t spread over night,” Kramer said after the Monday morning team briefing. “We expecting good progress today with much calmer winds.”

Later Monday, Kramer confirmed her expectation. “Firefighter efforts were aided today by much calmer winds,” she said. “Minor drift smoke may still be visible from Highway 243 due to interior smoldering.”

Full containment is estimated to be 6 p.m., Friday, Jan. 13, Kramer added.

On Tuesday, Jan. 10, traffic will no longer require pilot car escorts. Cal-Trans and CHP have lifted all emergency restrictions on State Highway 243.

As of Monday evening about 75 personnel are still assigned to the fire. At its high point, more than 200 people were battling the Lawler Fire. One helicopter is still assigned to the incident. The incident commander is Forest Service Battalion Chief Fred Espinoza.

The initial attack, which started during Sunday’s dark early hours, quickly expanded to 12 engines, two water tenders, five hand crews and air attack.

While the fire burned at a slow rate of spread, steep terrain and wind-driven fire spotting behavior were challenges fire fighters faced. On Sunday, strong winds are blowing in the area, which makes the firefighting more difficult.

“Fortunately this is an area where we’ve conducted major fuels reduction projects,” said Kramer. “It’s fairly defensible.” Forest fuels in this area had been treated as part of the North Fork and Highway 243 fuel treatment projects between 2006 and 2009.

The agencies cooperating and assisting the Forest Service included CALFIRE, Riverside Co. Fire Department, Idyllwild Fire Protection District, Riverside County Office of Emergency Services, California Highway Patrol, Cal Trans and the Forest Service’s Cleveland and Angeles National Forests.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined and is under investigation.