Two fires are still burning in the East Valley.
The Johnson fire in Oasis is 75 acres of vegetation, an open wildland fire that is 40% contained. This fire is not in threat of spreading. Fernando Herrera, Capitan with Cal Fire and Riverside County Fire Department, says in reference to the fire, “The forward rate has been stopped. Just a lot of overhaul and mop up.”
Meanwhile, the Martinez fire burning near Thermal is 32 acres and is contained inside of a recycling facility. This facility is located behind Desert Mirage High School and other neighboring schools. It is causing concern with the air quality in the area. If you are in the area make sure your windows are closed, make sure you stay indoors, make sure you take all necessary safety precautions, especially if you are sensitive to these outdoor conditions. Yolanda Corona, Board member for the district of Coachella states, “We do have a very good filter system here in our district, in our schools, and my concern was that if we send them home they might not have the same safety that we are providing for them here.”
Below shows the fire burning behind Desert Mirage High School Tuesday afternoon.
The mulch fire has piles up to 15 ft. high.
Congressman Raul Ruiz has called on the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the current incident commander, to shut down the facility. In response, the manager of the facility said, “Stating that we are burning plastic pipe and tires and asbestos … we don’t do that.” He also believes someone set the fire, “The area that got caught on fire was a very big area and that just doesn’t happen just like that… it takes some time unless you have some accelerant to start that fire, and we believe that’s exactly what happened.”
Fernando Herrera states, “The cause of either of the fires are under investigation. We have no information right now for us to suspect anything as far as how these fires were caused.”
Superintendent of the Coachella Valley Unified school district, Maria Gandera wrote to us this afternoon, “Students have been kept indoors for recess and lunch as well as any physical activities. All after school activities have been moved indoors or canceled. We will continue to work with the Fire Department to determine next steps.”