The Board of Supervisors Tuesday formally ratified a local emergency declaration connected to the 28,300-acre Fairview Fire, enabling the county to procure state and federal aid to cover most or all of the expenses stemming from it.
The 5-0 vote in favor of the action came nearly a week after Emergency Management Department Director Bruce Barton signed a temporary emergency declaration tied to the deadly wildfire.
An EMD spokesman told the board the county is already in line for a state grant covering 75% of fire suppression and related expenses. With the emergency proclamation in place, the county may be able to obtain additional grants that cover the balance.
County Fire Department Chief Bill Wiser told the supervisors that crews have established tentative containment lines “all the way around the fire.”
“We’re in the process of mopping up, improving our lines,” Wiser said. “Mother Nature helped us out tremendously.”
Since Friday, the remnants of Tropical Storm Kay have triggered multiple thunderstorms and downpours throughout the fire zone, stretching from East Hemet into the San Bernardino National Forest, near Mountain Center.
Officials estimate that total damage and other costs resulting from the blaze are now $25.6 million.
According to Wiser, at the height of the conflagration, almost 2,500 personnel from the county, Cal Fire, the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies were on the fire lines.
There were two adult deaths at the outset of the wildfire, involving residents south of Hemet trying to flee. A woman was also seriously burned in the same vehicle. She is undergoing treatment at a regional burn center.
Three first responders were injured, though none of the injuries were life-threatening. According to the fire chief, a Cal Fire helicopter sustained major damage during a controlled crash at Banning Municipal Airport, one of the facilities used as a base of operation last week. Details on specifically what transpired were not provided.
Evacuation orders that went out last week impacted 12,000 residents. All orders have since been canceled.
Twenty-one structures were destroyed and four were damaged by the fire, Wiser said.
He anticipated that the blaze would be completely under control by Saturday.
Daily media briefings on the fire ended Tuesday.
Anyone impacted by the fire and in need of assistance from the county, state or other sources was encouraged to contact the EMD call center at 951-358-5134.