Highway 74 escorts eliminated
The Cranston Fire may be history, but its effects will be seared into the memories of Hill residents for years. Life here is gradually returning to normal.
On Thursday, Aug. 2, the California Interagency Incident Management Team returned command of the fire to the San Bernardino National Forest. The team had been managing the response to the fire for a week.
The next day, Aug. 3, most of the closures within the San Jacinto Ranger District of the San Bernardino National Forest were lifted. “Recreational sites that remain closed include the South Ridge Trail, the South Ridge Road and a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail,” according to the Aug. 4 update. These closures will remain in effect through July 31, 2019.
Also, the Forest Service confirmed that the Tahquitz Peak Fire Lookout was not damaged during the fire and remains open.
The California State Parks also announced that the Stone Creek and Idyllwild campgrounds were reopened, in addition to the state park wilderness campsites.
All hiking trails leading to the Mt. San Jacinto State Park Wilderness are open. The Mount San Jacinto State Park is open as well as all area state parks. "The Cranston Fire did not burn within the state park property," said Jorge Moreno, California State Parks information officer.
On Aug. 4, full power was restored to Anza Electric Co-op customers.
Finally, on Saturday, Aug. 10, the Forest Service announced that the Cranston Fire was 100 percent contained. It burned 13,139 acres after it started on Wednesday, July 25.
“Firefighters will continue to patrol and mop up hot spots in the interior of the fire’s perimeter until the fire is fully controlled and out,” said Zach Behrens, the Forest Service public information officer.
The Burned Area Emergency Response Team has begun an assessment of burned watersheds to identify post-wildfire threats to human life and safety, damage to property and infrastructure, as well as critical natural or cultural resources on district lands. Emergency stabilization measures to be taken before the first major rain storms will be one result of this assessment.
Highway 74 was opened with escorts on Aug. 3. But on Saturday night, Aug. 11, Caltrans removed the need for escort vehicles.
However, Caltrans PIO Shelli Lomardo cautioned that some delays will still occur as work continues on the damaged portions of the highway. For example, speed-limit signs have to be ordered and then installed. Work on guardrails will continue, too. Some traffic delays will still occur.
Caltrans crews and Ames Construction installed a total of 9,100 linear feet of guardrail, cleaned or repaired 25 basins and culverts, and installed signage along the routes that were damaged during the Cranston Fire. Crews will continue to repair 30 more drains and culverts this week. Also, a pipe repair will continue at mile post marker 54.06, close to Strawberry Creek, Caltrans reported in its press release.