Crews Friday stopped the forward rate of spread on a 715-acre wildfire burning near Mountain Center, moving closer to containment, prompting authorities to lift all evacuation orders and reopen all roads in the area.
The non-injury “Bonita Fire” was reported about 1:15 a.m. in the 28000 block of Bonita Vista Road, a mile east of the junction for Highways 74 and 243, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
Easterly winds pushed the flames to the southwest, threatening the lightly populated community of Mountain Center, and evacuation orders were issued for all residents.
However, as of 6 p.m., the orders were rescinded.
The California Highway Patrol had closed Highway 74 between Lake Hemet and the 74/243 interchange, as well as the 243 between Saunders Meadow Road and the interchange. But at 12:30 p.m., the 243 was completely reopened, and the 74 was partially reopened.
During the afternoon, the CHP was providing escorts between Mountain Center and Lake Hemet, going both east and west, to control traffic volume, but all restrictions along the two-lane corridor were lifted by 6 p.m.
At nightfall, the blaze was 20% contained.
Cal Fire air tankers departed the area early in the afternoon, leaving two water-dropping helicopters to make runs on the fire.
Personnel and equipment from several agencies, including the Riverside Fire Department, that had been requested to assist under a mutual aid agreement returned home, according to reports from the scene.
More than 200 firefighters were on the fire lines, and the U.S. Forest Service took command of operations late in the day.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.