Dozens of firefighters from CAL FIRE and U.S. Forest Service fight flames as they came right to the highway Saturday. The need to park equipment on the highway resulted in the roads closure from Saturday until Sunday afternoon. Photo by Jenny Kirchner

The Gorgonio Fire, which started near noon Saturday, May 4, scorched nearly 510 acres in the Twin Pines area before being contained Sunday evening.

This fire, south of Banning, followed soon after firefighters had contained the Summit Fire, which started Wednesday, May 1, north of Banning. Eventually the Summit Fire burned nearly 3,200 acres.

On Saturday, battling the Gorgonio Fire necessitated the closure of Highway 243 from Wesley Avenue in Banning to Poppet Flat Road on the Hill.

Officials reopened the road, with escorts, Sunday afternoon, and complete reopening was about three hours later Sunday evening.

“The number of recent fires is typical for this time of year in Southern California,” said CAL FIRE Capt. Mike Smith, public information officer for the Gorgonio Fire. “However the weather conditions normally don’t let them grow as these have. The wind, low humidity and heat have helped them grow.”

Although rain was in the forecast, Smith stressed that the worst part of the Gorgonio Fire was on its far eastern flank and access to it was very difficult.

On Saturday, several air tankers, including a DC-10, were dropping retardant on the ridges along Highway 243 above Banning.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided the state with financial assistance for the costs of fighting several recent fires in Southern California, including the Spring Fire in Ventura County.

The Fire Management Assistance Grant will provide 75 percent reimbursement of eligible firefighting expenses.