Riverside County workers clean up debris resulting from the Cranston Fire.
Photo courtesy Riverside County Department of Waste Resources

The Cranston Fire has cost several Riverside County departments close to $1 million, according to figures released this week to the Town Crier by the Emergency Management Department.

“The current costs of $813,000 are approximate as the county is still in the recovery process and some departments may continue to accrue costs,” EMD Senior Public Information Specialist Brooke Federico said.

“The costs were incurred by EMD and the departments of Environmental Health, Waste Resources, the Sheriff, Animal Services, among others, and most other county departments with a role in the response, but they do not include Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department costs.”

EMD does not collect costs from fire service agencies or the U.S. Forest Service, Caltrans or nonprofit agencies and the utilities, and the figure does not include damage to the forest, wildlife or environment.

“We do not have a way to collect other losses to the community, but businesses impacted by the Cranston Fire were encouraged to apply for a low-interest loan offered by the Small Business Administration,” said Federico.

The Board of Supervisors will receive the cost figures as a part of the EMD’s first-quarter budget report. Federico said the date the report will go to the board has not been determined, but is expected in the next couple of weeks.

EMD is also developing a Final Cranston Wildfire After-Action Report covering actions organized from the county’s Emergency Operations Center. Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department costs will not be included in that report either as EOC does not organize firefighting response.

“The After-Action Report is one big report,” Federico said. “As the costs come in, we will attach them and they will eventually go to the BOS [also], but the report is not expected to be finalized and presented before the end of the year.”

An alleged arsonist started the Cranston Fire July 25. Before its containment days later, the blaze burned more than 13,000 acres of the San Bernardino National Forest, injured three firefighters, forced evacuation of the Hill, and damaged or destroyed several properties in Idyllwild and Mountain Center.

To one degree or another, the fire adversely affected residents, visitors, local businesses, the natural environment, transportation, infrastructure and utilities.  Concern has been raised about the cost and continued access to fire insurance on the Hill.

With the beginning of seasonal rains, Hill residents and public agencies expect and may incur costs due to destructive rock slides, mud flows, road closures and extended travel times. Property and human life may be threatened.