Update 10:54 a.m. Tuesday:
All evacuation orders have been lifted.
Update Tuesday morning:
The Flats Fire is now 60% contained, according to Incident Command.
Update 12:30 p.m. Monday:
The Flats Fire's rate of spread has been stopped, "but high heat, winds and rocky terrain will continue to present challenges for firefighters this week during a heatwave," according an Incident Command update.
Pinyon Crest, previously on a mandatory evacuation, is now on an evacuation warning. "Pinyon Pines and Alpine Village remain under an evacuation warning," IC wrote.
"Highway 74 is closed between the Cahuilla Tewanet Vista Point (Palm Desert side) and Palm Canyon Drive (Idyllwild side). One lane within the closure will be open by pilot car to local residents. Wait times could be 30 minutes or more."
Update 9:15 a.m. Monday, June 14, 2021
The Flats Fire in the Pinyon area is now 30% contained, according to U.S. Forest Service Incident Command.
Update 8:52 p.m.
The Flats Fire in the Pinyon area is now 10% contained, according to U.S. Forest Service Incident Command.
Update 8:05 p.m.
The U.S. Forest Service reported that the cause of the fire is under investigation. Personnel on scene number 400.
Town Crier co-publishers Jack and Becky Clark responded for the newspaper to the incident and reported seeing Tahoe rangers, firefighters/equipment from Angeles National Forest, Hemet, Riverside and desert fire departments, and multiple police/sheriff's personnel/vehicles, as well as multiple aircraft.
Update 7:15 pm:
According to the U.S. Forest Service, “Highway 74 is closed between Highway 371 near Garner Valley and Palowet Drive in Palm Desert. Residents are allowed beyond the Highway 371 closure up to Ribbonwood Drive.”
Update 6:32 pm:
The U.S. Forest Service is now reporting the Flats Fire at 400 acres. “The 400-acre Flats Fire is burning in the Santa Rosa Mountains off Highway 74 near the communities of Pinyon Crest, Pinyon and Alpine Village. The forward rate of spread has been stopped, but high heat, winds and rocky terrain continue to present challenges for firefighters,” according to a press release.
Update: Animals may be taken to Coachella Valley Animal Campus, 72050 Pet Land Place, in Thousand Palms. The following are also closed: Cactus Spring Trail, Pinyon Campground, Ribbonwood Campground and any other recreation destinations located within the road closure area.
Update 4:30 p.m.
Public Information Officer Lisa Cox has just reported the fire is at 250 acres. One firefighter has been transported with injuries to Eisenhower Medical Center.
According to PIO Lee Beyer, the injured firefighter is being evaluated but has no life-threatening injuries. Beyer said two dwellings were destroyed, and three dwellings and three outbuildings were damaged.
The fire started in the Pinyon Transfer Station and traveled east, proceeding into the nearby canyon, jumping the highway and advancing up Sugar Loaf Mountain.
With dozers, aircraft, firefighters and fire retardant on scene, Beyer said though the fire at this time is 0% contained, some shaky containment is occurring in some areas, yet nothing is official.
He said the fire is picking its way slowly up Sugar Loaf because of the rocky terrain, with challenges being heat and wind.
Incident Command's two top priorities are holding the fire on the south slope so it doesn't ascend into the 8,000-foot elevation Santa Rosa forest area and protecting houses in the now evacuated Pinyon Crest area from Scenic Drive to Carrizo Road.
"It's looking a whole lot better than it did at 1 o'clock and 2 o'clock," Beyer said.
At 3:55 p.m.
The California Highway Patrol has closed Highway 74 between Highway 371 junction and Palm Desert due to a wildfire in the Pinyon Crest area.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, "The 225-acre Flats Fire is burning in the Santa Rosa Mountains off Highway 74 near the communities of Pinyon Crest, Pinyon and Alpine Village. It was first reported at approximately 11:15 a.m. on Sunday, June 13, 2021. The San Bernardino National Forest is in unified command with CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department."
Also, "The Pinyon Crest neighborhood is currently under a mandatory evacuation."
The evacuation center is at Idyllwild School.