State Routes 74 and 243 in the Cranston Fire burn area will reopen at noon Saturday to Idyllwild, Mountain Center, Apple Canyon and Hemet, officials announced Friday.
Motorists will be escorted by pilot vehicles on state Route 74 between Lake Hemet and Mountain Center, as well as from Mountain Center to Hemet and were advised to expect delays of up to 45 minutes to allow pilot vehicles to take traffic in one direction of travel, then return. There will be no restrictions on state Route 243.
Less than 200 firefighters and other personnel remained assigned to the Cranston Fire that burned 13,139 acres, destroyed 12 buildings and damaged five others near Idyllwild.
The fire, which broke out on July 25, was 96 percent contained and all evacuation orders have been lifted. Full containment is expected Thursday.
The blaze broke out off Highway 74 in the San Jacinto Mountains between Hemet and Mountain Center, just east of the Cranston Fire Station. Three firefighters were injured last week battling the fire, which authorities believe was deliberately set by a Temecula man who’s also accused of setting eight other fires.
Brandon N. McGlover, 32, was arrested near Newport Road and State Street in Hemet about 12:30 p.m. the day the fire broke out and charged two days later with 15 felony counts. He pleaded not guilty and is being held in lieu of $3.5 million bail pending a Sept. 24 felony settlement conference.
The cost of fighting the fire has been estimated at $20 million, with the final cost projected at $23 million, officials said.
“Vista Grande Hotshots hiked into the South Ridge portion of the fire today to inspect the fire line and found no threats to the containment line,” according to a Forest Service statement that said residents may see glowing embers at night and minor smoke from smoldering heavy fuels in the interior portions of the fire.
“Please do not notify authorities of this situation as fire personnel are monitoring all portions of the fire,” officials said.
Repairs to electrical infrastructure are complete and Southern California Edison and the Anza Electric Co-op were working to re-energize lines and Caltrans continues to replace guard rails and traffic signs along state Routes 243 and 74.
All U.S. Forest Service lands in the San Jacinto Ranger District and the adjacent Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument were ordered closed to public entry.
However, a new order going into effect Saturday will reopen “the majority of popular hiking trails, campgrounds and roads on the district and national monument,” according to the forest service.
Some sites that will remain closed include the South Ridge Trail, the South Ridge Road and a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail.
The public can call (909) 383-5688 for information on the closures.