At 11:42 a.m. Monday, California Highway Patrol reported a motor home with smoke coming out of its engine 3 miles east of Highway 371 on the roadside of Highway 74. U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire engines and personnel were dispatched about noon and arrived on scene to a vegetation fire about a quarter of an acre. Aircraft also were quickly dispatched and Highway 74 between Paradise Corner Cafe and Palm Desert was closed as the fire quickly spread toward Bull Canyon to the east of Highway 74.
The Anza Fire spread at a moderate to rapid rate of speed reaching nearly 500 acres by nightfall and was 10 percent contained. The potential acreage was estimated at 1,000-plus.
But as of 7 a.m. Tuesday, at Cal Fire’s morning briefing, Incident Command reported the Anza Fire had consumed 487 acres and was 20 percent contained. By 2:30 p.m., airccraft personnel reported the fire was 100 percent surrounded by the fire line. No estimate was given as to when it would be controlled.
By 5:37 p.m. Tuesday Incident Command officially estimated the containment of the Anza fire at 50 percent,
An owner of the burned motor home was transported by American Medical Response to an area hospital for first and second degree burns to the right forearm, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Three firefighters suffered minor injuries Monday and were transported by ground ambulance to area hospitals but were released back to work on Wednesday.
Six to 10 homes on Hialeah Way were ordered evacuated, but no structures are threatened at this time.
The Pacific Crest Trail from Highway 74 north to Cedar Springs Trail is temporarily closed as a precaution, said U.S. Forest Service Recreation Officer John Ladley. That’s about a 7 to 7-1/2 mile stretch. He also pointed out that the PCT north of Cedar Springs Trail is closed because of the Mountain Fire of July 2013.
One lane of Highway 74 opened about 10 a.m. Tuesday with the entire highway opening around 11:30 a.m.
Incident Commander Battalion Chief Richard Griggs related that there had been great work by night resources, with a low temperature of 58 and 65 percent humidity that allowed good recovery.
Firefighters were warned they would encounter heavy brush since the area had no real fire history. They were advised that the terrain is steep and rugged with boulders, stump holes and brush taller than the bulldozers.
Briefing officers emphasized that there was medium-range spotting with confirmed hot spots outside the line, which would be the early morning priority. One briefing officer admonished that “a 500-acre fire seems puny, but we’re not there yet. We’re not done by a long shot.”
Griggs related that Monday’s overall objective of keeping the fire north of Highway 74, south of the Desert Divide, east of Penrod Canyon and west of Palm Canyon remained in force.
Units from all over Southern and Central California responded and were present at the briefing. Shoulder patches from San Diego County to the south and Kings and Tulare counties to the north were in evidence as well as from all the counties and several cities in between. Also represented were the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs.
At one point Monday, firefighters numbered 342 with 45 fire engines, 19 overhead personnel, five helicopters, seven air tankers, five fire crews, three water tenders and two bulldozers. Additional aircraft have been ordered.
The Town Crier will continue to provide updates on its website and through its iPhone and Android apps.