On November 16, 2020 San Bernardino National Forest officials announced that the El Dorado Fire, along with the Apple and Snow Fires have reached 100% containment. These fires were previously at 95% containment because uncontained perimeters were located in steep and inaccessible terrain. Containment has now been achieved as fire in uncontained areas has reached natural features void of vegetation.
Although full containment has been reached, the three fires remain in a status called uncontrolled. That means smoldering continues within the interior of the burn scar perimeters. As an illustration of that, smoke continued to be seen from the El Dorado Fire in the Forest Falls, Calif., community during the second week of November after a winter storm brought several inches of snow.
Evacuation warnings were lifted on Wednesday, November 11 at 8:50 AM by the San Bernardino County Sheriff for the communities of Mountain Home Village, Forest Falls, Angelus Oaks, Seven Oaks, and Barton Flats. These communities are open to residents only until further notice.
"We're pleased to see this improvement, but we remain cautious," said Deputy Fire Chief Scott Howes. "We've experienced below normal precipitation and several heat waves over the last six months. Temperatures continue to be high, the vegetation is drying out again and there is no new precipitation in sight."
Fire restrictions on the forest will remain in effect until conditions improve. Campfires, dispersed camping, smoking and recreational target shooting are among a number of temporarily prohibited activities related to fire safety. All fire restrictions are listed on the San Bernardino National Forest webpage.
Forest roads and hiking trails within the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area remain closed. Please check the San Bernardino National Forest websitefor forest roads and trails information.
Please be advised that there will be delays in traffic on State Route highway 38 due to road work and erosion control by Cal Trans in the area. Please drive with care and at slower speeds to help ensure firefighter safety. Please check https://roads.dot.ca.gov/ for updated highway conditions.
Post-fire emergency preparedness for local residents:
Residents and visitors in the fire area should be aware that recently burned areas are at a greater risk of mudflows and flash floods. Fires eliminate vegetation that hold soil and rocks in place and charred ground may be unable to absorb water. Forest Service Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Teams and CAL FIRE Watershed Emergency Response Team (WERT) efforts are focused on the protection of human life, safety, and property. Rapid burn assessments identify areas that have increased potential for floods and mudflow, enabling county, state, and federal emergency managers to better plan their responses to future rain events. For more information, please visit the El Dorado Post-Fire BAER InciWeb page.
Residents in the mountain and foothill areas should stay informed of weather forecasts. Register your cell phones with the Telephone Emergency Notification System (TENS) / Swift 911 and have an emergency plan. Visit www.sbcounty.gov for more emergency preparedness information.
El Dorado Fire narrative:
The El Dorado Fire began on September 5th in El Dorado Park near Yucaipa, CA. Temperatures recorded the day the fire started were 15 to 20 degrees above normal, and in many cases broke new record high temperatures. Over a 23-day period, the fire burned 22,680 acres in the Oak Glen / Yucaipa Ridge area and within the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area of the San Bernardino National Forest. The fire forced the evacuations of Oak Glen, north Yucaipa, Mountain Home Village, Forest Falls, and Angelus Oaks communities. The fire required 60 miles of fireline and ranged from a minimum elevation of 3030’ to a maximum of 10,640’. There were 4 residences damaged, 5 residences destroyed along with 15 other structures destroyed.
The incident command post was established at Yucaipa Regional Park, Yucaipa, CA, and two interagency incident management teams rotated through the incident: California Interagency Management Team 11 (Incident Commander Chris Fogle), and California Interagency Management Team 13 (Incident Commander Mike Wakoski).
At the peak, there were 1,351 personnel assigned to the fire including 17 hand crews, 177 engines, 20 water tenders, 17 dozers, and 10 helicopters. Numerous Fixed Wing Tankers including a DC-10 assisted with aerial fire-retardant drops. Three Canadian Fire Bosses and a Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) Water Scooper were also used for the first time in Southern California and were based out of Big Bear Airport & Lake.
This fire resulted in one firefighter fatality, Charlie Morton, a 14-year veteran firefighter with the San Bernardino National Forest, as well as thirteen injuries. The memorial service for fallen USDA Forest Service firefighter Charles Edward Morton was held on Friday, September 25, 2020, at 11 a.m. in San Bernardino, CA.
Nearly 3,000 phone calls were placed by affected residents to the San Bernardino National Forest’s Fire Information Center, (909-383-5688), and nearly one million pageviews on https://Inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7148/ Two community meeting were held in Forest Falls and in Angelus Oak as the respective communities were repopulated. Two additional Facebook Live events were held to answer questions regarding the fire.