Covering the fight against California's wildfires

Mountain Fire Worries Shift from Flames to Floods

The Mountain Fire in the San Jacinto Mountains has burned 42 square miles since July 15

By Jason Kandel and Brandon Lowrey
|  Tuesday, Jul 23, 2013  |  Updated 3:13 AM PDT
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Rain and cooler weather helped firefighters get the upper hand on the fire this weekend. But now a new concern: the possibility of flash flooding and mudslides. Tony Shin reports from Lake Hemet for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on July 22, 2013.

Tony Shin

Rain and cooler weather helped firefighters get the upper hand on the fire this weekend. But now a new concern: the possibility of flash flooding and mudslides. Tony Shin reports from Lake Hemet for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on July 22, 2013.

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Mountain Fire Destruction Is "Very Sad"

“It hurts me very much to see this happen. It’s very sad,” says a Garner Valley resident of the Mountain Fire, which had consumed more than 14,000 acres by Wednesday in the San Jacinto Mountains. Toni Guinyard reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on July 17, 2013.

Mountain Fire Victims Sift Through Ashes

The Mountain Fire continued to grow on Friday, and has destroyed six homes so far. Bonita Vista area residents returned to see what was left of their homes. Tony Shin reports from Lake Hemet for the NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. on July 19, 2013.
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Rain further doused the dwindling Mountain Fire near Palm Springs on Monday, helping firefighters to gain 85 percent containment, officials said.

And, in stark contrast to last week, firefighters' warnings didn't involve smoke and flames, but flash flooding and mudslides in burn areas.

The 27,332-acre fire had raged out of control last week, destroying seven homes and 16 other structures.

At its peak, 3,478 firefighters were working to control the blaze, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. But on Monday, 1,146 firefighters remained to finish off the wildfire.

After being helped by significant rainfall over the weekend, firefighters shifted gears, evaluating burned areas for damage and mopping up hot spots with the hope of fully containing the fire by Wednesday.

Full Coverage: Southern California Wildfires

Storms dropped an inch and a half of rain on the blaze Sunday, officials announced, allowing thousands of residents to return to the resort town of Idyllwild and nearby communities southwest of Palm Springs after mandatory evacuations were lifted.

While the wildifre was no longer a threat to the Palm Springs and Idyllwild areas, the National Interagency Fire Center said in a statement that the blaze was causing a downpour of ash in neighboring communities.

The fire has been burning in rugged terrain since July 15. The area where it started was in the San Jacinto Mountains, just west of Palm Springs in Riverside County.

The cost of the fire is estimated at more than $21.6 million.

Authorities have said the fire was human-caused, but they wouldn't say whether it was accidental or intentional, according to the Associated Press.

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