Caltrans officials Friday warned residents living in the burn area of the Cranston Fire that scorched more than 13,000 acres in the San Bernardino National Forest last month to take heed of possible mudslides and other debris flows that could put locals at risk and lead to the sudden closures of local roadways.
In a video posted online Friday, Caltrans and California Highway Patrol officials said that over the next few years, closures of state routes 74 and 243, which serve residents of the mountain communities Idyllwild, Mountain Center and other areas where the Cranston Fire burned, could come “without notice” due to the continuous threat of debris flows.
Officials warned of future mudslides and flooding likely to hit the area “over the next five years as the mountain landscape recovers.”
Motorists were advised to check weather conditions before heading in or out of the Idyllwild area, and not to try to drive through running water or debris flows.
“If the road is about to flood, we’re going to shut it down. We’re going to shelter the residents in place and make sure they’re safe,” CHP Officer Darren Meyer said. “Caltrans has a team of geologists and engineers that are going to go onsite and make sure the road is safe before it’s reopened. Your access to your home up and down the mountain from the 74 or 243 is critically important to us. We don’t take it lightly, but your safety is paramount.”
The fire began around noon July 25 off Highway 74 in the San Jacinto Mountains between Hemet and Mountain Center, just east of the Cranston Fire Station, and destroyed about a dozen homes while prompting the evacuations of thousands of residents living in the mountain communities Idyllwild, Mountain Center, Lake Hemet, Pine Cove and other surrounding cities.
Three firefighters were injured in the battle to knock down the fire, which drew more than 1,000 fire personnel from across the state at the height of the blaze.
A Temecula man, 32-year-old Brandon N. McGlover, allegedly set nine fires on July 25, including the one that became the Cranston blaze. He’s since been charged with 15 felony arson counts.
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