Thursday morning, May 22, the Hill was overrun with fire vehicles. Not just Idyllwild Fire and Riverside County Fire, but engines and firefighters from Orange County and local cities such as Banning, Beaumont, Cathedral City, Corona and Indio, as well as nearby tribal units from Pechanga and Morongo reservations. Several county, state and federal agencies, including the Air National Guard, were also vital participants.
The Robin and Wood fires were a drill conducted by Riverside County Fire Department and Cal Fire.
The exercise involved two fires. The first, the Wood Fire, was located in Pine Cove. Air resources were part of the exercise and while flying this fire, they discovered and reported a second ignition near Robin Drive in Idyllwild.
Fire officials began assembling about 6 a.m. at the Mountain Center Café, where RCFD Fire Chief John Hawkins told them, “We play the way we practice. This is unified command so we want to maximize similarities and minimize differences.”
Fire Chief John Wise of Los Angeles City said, “These agencies are working together. The complexity [of a fire incident] doesn’t change whether there are 3,000 people or 100,000, just the number. But it’s the same challenges.”