Palm Springs fire impact: Effects of Mountain Fire on city

July 18th, 2013 | by Blake Herzog | Comments

As the Mountain Fire burns in an area of the San Jacinto Mountains at times visible from Palm Springs, here is how the city is affected:

 

PALM SPRINGS TRAM TO REOPEN TUESDAY (updated Monday, July 22)

A sign at the entrance to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway announces the closure Thursday. (Crystal Chatham, The Desert Sun)

A sign at the entrance to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway announces the closure Thursday. (Crystal Chatham, The Desert Sun)

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway will reopen Tuesday, with the first tram car going up at 10 a.m., the tramway announced Monday.

Mount San Jacinto State Park and wilderness are still closed, the tramway added.

The Mountain Fire shuttered the tramway beginning Thursday. By Friday morning, the fire had entered the state park and was about a mile from the tramway’s Mountain Station, said Paul Reisman, a superintendent with the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

A small portion of the wildfire came within a third- to a half-mile of the station, Terry Krasko of the U.S. Forest Service said Sunday. Firefighters took the tram up the mountain and used its station as a base.

“We are grateful to the firefighters for their quick response and hard work in getting this fire under control,” tramway General Manager Rob W. Parkins said in a statement.

 

TAHQUITZ AND INDIAN CANYONS CLOSED (updated Friday)

A U.S. Forestry fire truck enters Indian Canyons in Palm Springs on Tuesday. (Wade Byars, The Desert Sun)

A U.S. Forestry fire truck enters Indian Canyons on Tuesday. (Wade Byars, The Desert Sun)

Tahquitz and Indian Canyons, 56 square miles that are typically open Friday through Sunday during the summer, are closed because of the fire, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians said Friday.

The Palm Springs-based tribe said Thursday more than 6,000 acres burned by the Mountain Fire are on its reservation.

“We have been fortunate to this point because the thousands of acres of reservation land burned are located deep in the mountains without severe threat to culturally sensitive areas or human lives,” Tribal Chairman Jeff Grubbe said in a statement Thursday. “We are all deeply saddened by both those who have been displaced by this unfortunate event and those who have lost homes and property.”

 

FLAMES VISIBLE, BUT CITY NOT IN DANGER (updated Thursday)

Flames are seen behind the Palm Springs airport tower Wednesday night. (Wade Byars, The Desert Sun)

Flames are seen behind the Palm Springs airport tower Wednesday night. (Wade Byars, The Desert Sun)

By Wednesday night, flames were visible at the top of the San Jacinto Mountains and could be easily seen from Palm Springs, but fire officials continued to say that Palm Springs was not in danger.

The Mountain Fire spread about a mile closer to Palm Springs from Wednesday to Thursday and around two-and-a-half miles from its perimeter toward Palm Springs since Monday, said Candy Lupe, a spokeswoman assigned to Mountain Fire from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The wildfire has yet to spread west of Maynard Mine or Dry Camp Canyon on reservation land as of Thursday afternoon.

“I know there have been a couple of rumors, but it’s difficult for a fire to back down that slope,” U.S. Forest Service spokesman Lee Beyer said Thursday afternoon. “Winds are pushing it away from Palm Springs, and there’s less grass and burnable material there.”

 

VILLAGEFEST GOES ON

Smoke from the Mountain Fire can be seen earlier this week in downtown Palm Springs. (Courtesy of Jill Hayes)

Smoke from the Mountain Fire can be seen earlier this week in downtown Palm Springs. (Courtesy of Jill Hayes)

Palm Springs’ weekly VillageFest street fair went on Thursday evening. Air quality reports were improving from Wednesday, City Manager David Ready said Thursday morning.

At 8 a.m., the air quality index readings from the South Coast Air Quality Management District for the Coachella Valley was 43, and the reading which triggers an “unhealthy for sensitive people” is about 103.

“Obviously people can decide for themselves whether they want to be outside,” Ready said.

The South Coast district has deployed extra sensors to the area in light of the fire.

VillageFest runs from 7 to 10 p.m., closing down Palm Canyon Drive between Baristo and Amado roads.

 

MOUNTAIN FIRE: Coverage from the San Jacinto Mountains at mydesert.com/mountainfire

 

Dave Nyczepir and Desert Sun staff contributed to this report.

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