Riverside County fire crews say the Silver Fire, burning near Cabazon near Banning, is about 95 percent controlled since scorching more than 20,000 acres of land. The blaze was at about 90 percent controlled by Sunday night. Thanks to 1,400 firefighters on the job this weekend, crews were able to make major progress after focusing on the hot spots.
Originally, they anticipated having the fire completely subdued sometime on Sunday, according to fire officials. The blaze, which began on Wednesday afternoon, spread very quickly, causing evacuations of residents of about 1,500 homes in surrounding areas. As of early Sunday morning the fire had burned 19,436 acres and was still only about 75 percent controlled.
Several evacuation centers for displaced residents and their pets were set up at the following locations:
- Hemet High School, 41701 E. Stetson Ave. in Hemet.
- Beaumont High School, 39139 Cherry Valley Blvd. in Beaumont.
- San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus, 581 S. Grand Ave. in San Jacinto.
Residents needed to check in with the distribution center at Hemet High School and provide proper identification to get an access pass.
As of 6:00 p.m. on Friday, orders of evacuations were lifted for the communities of Snow Creek, Cabazon, Mt. Edna and Poppet Flats. The fire threat to those areas had significantly reduced.
On Saturday, the community of Twin Pines had their evacuation orders lifted as of 9:00 p.m. Residents needed to receive an access pass from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department checkpoint at Highway 243 and Poppet Flats Road, according to officials.
Due to safety concerns as of Sunday morning, the Silent Valley RV Park remained closed due to the continuing firefighting operations. RV owners were given a small window of time to access their areas. However, any RV owners that chose to return were required to leave again by 11:00 a.m.
Evacuation orders are still in effect for Marion Mountain Campground, Fern Basin Campground and Dark Canyon Campground as well as the Marion Mountain and Seven Pines hiking trails. Black Mountain was closed after evacuation as a safety precaution. Boulder Basin and Black Mountain Campgrounds on Black Mountain Road have also been closed and will remain that way until August 15.
Due to the major inconveniences associated with this fire Shadow Hills RV Resort says evacuees with RVs can stay at the resort for free until the fire is contained. Shadow Hills is located at 40-655 Jefferson St. in Indio.
Highway 243 is still closed between Banning and Azalea Trail in Poppet Flats. Residents were of advised of a detour route: east Highway 74 to north Highway 243 to reach Twin Pines, Mt. Edna, and Poppett Flats communities.
According to officials, the catastrophic fire near Cabazon has destroyed 48 homes. At least 26 resident’s homes, one commercial building and 21 outbuildings were destroyed, and eight other structures experienced fire damage.
During a break in battling the Silver Fire some of the firefighters took time to visit the memorial of firefighters who died in the October 2006 blaze. They paused on Sunday to honor the five United States Forest Service firefighters. The entire crew of Engine 57 died there battling the Oct. 26, 2006 Esperanza Fire.
To date, the estimated cost of fighting the fire is over $8.8 million, officials said. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)