Firefighters Attack Northern Flank of Mountain Fire

Around 3,350 firefighters have been battling the Mountain Fire for six days

Aided by rain, firefighters made great progress Sunday on the more than 42 square-mile Mountain Fire and continued to blitz the massive fire's northern flank.

Firefighters had the fire 68 percent surrounded on Sunday, and the fight was going so well that they pushed up an estimated date for full containment from Friday to Wednesday.

Storms dropped 1.5 inches of rain overnight in the Palm Springs area, fire officials said. This helped firefighters further cut a line around the wildfire that has been burning in rugged terrain since Monday.

"Although conditions were hazardous and some crews were taken off the line due to the severe weather, firefighters continue to fight the fire aggressively where possible," US Forest Service spokesman John Miller said in a press release on Sunday.

The priority on Sunday was for firefighters to cut lines around the northernmost part of the fire at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, Miller said.

The weather was expected to remain in firefighters' favor with rain and thunderstorms forecast throughout the day.

The thunderstorms, though, were considered a double-edge sword as lightning and flash floods were possible.

Evacuation orders for Idyllwild, Fern Valley and Pine Cove were lifted Sunday morning.

Evacuations were also lifted for the communities of Trails End and Camp Joe Scherman.

Apple Canyon, Bonita Vista, Fobes Canyon, and Pine Springs Ranch areas were also open to residents.

Some 23 structures have been destroyed, including seven homes. The cost of the fire is estimated at nearly $20 million.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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