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Bonita Fire 30% contained, held at 715 acres

Bonita Fire 01152021 (6)

As of Saturday evening the San Bernardino National Forest announced that the Bonita Fire, which broke out at around 1 a.m. Friday morning, was 30% contained and had burned 715 acres. The acreage of the fire, burning in the mountains above the Coachella valley, remained steady from the night before as crews were able to get more control of the blaze.

Evacuation orders were issued shortly after the fire broke out. By Friday night all evacuations were lifted.

"Had to stay in a hotel down the hill," said Mountain Center resident, Craig Cagle.

Cagle was happy to be back at home on Saturday.

"They banged on the door after 2 a.m. and we just packed a bag and left."

Cagle and his wife have been through the same situation before.

"It didn’t burn very much compared to the fire we had a couple years ago," said Cagle.

According to Cal Fire, the Bonita Fire burned in terrain that was already scarred by the Mountain Fire of 2013.

Courtesy: San Bernardino National Forest

"At this point it’s just another year, another fire. It does happen frequently for us, it’s kind of a usual occurrence, it’s not a surprise anymore," said Alpaca Coffee & Tea owner, Grace Han. 

Han's quaint coffee shop sits in the small town of Idyllwild, less than a 10-minute drive north of Mountain Center. She, along with many other mountain residents, have become all too familiar with what it's like for their community to be threatened by wildfire.

"If there’s snow on the ground we’re kind of less worried about it because of the snow, the fire’s not going to spread as quickly," said Han.

Cal Fire officials said as long as there are elevated temperatures, dry conditions and Santa Ana winds the fire threat will continue.

"We are definitely experiencing above average temperature and wind events for a January," said San Bernardino National Forest spokesperson, Lisa Cox.

The agency had to change plans upon learning the winter weather was warming up.

"When we got an update on the more severe wind event that was coming in and the temperatures, we halted and stopped the prescription burning," said Cox.

Prescription burns were scheduled in the forest to help mitigate future fire threats.

The agency also had to implement restrictions due to the weather conditions and the anticipation of more holiday weekend visitors.

"We just ramped the shooting restrictions back up so there’s no target shooting allowed in the forest at all right now," said Cox.

The fire remains under investigation.

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Shelby Nelson

Shelby Nelson is a News Reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. She joined our team in September 2019 after living in San Francisco for 6 years. Learn more about Shelby here.


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