Posts Tagged ‘BDF 56 Crew’

A View of the Highland Fire from Hemet

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

Smoke from the Highland Fire reached Hemet

By Marcia E. Gawecki

At the Target shopping center in Hemet, people were talking excitedly in groups, looking up at the smoke coming from the Highland Fire which began Saturday night, June 16.

According to news reports, the Highland Fire, which is beyond the Banning side of the mountain in Beaumont, reached 2,000 acres by 8:30 p.m., and was 10 percent contained.

An air tanker flew onto Hemet Field, which was on the other side of the Target store.

“I’ve seen the air tanker come in and land three times,” said Wayne Parker, an Idyllwild Arts van driver.

He had been there for about 20 minutes, waiting on ESL students to come out of Target.

“There must be water tanks with hoses on Hemet Field,” Wayne said. “But I can’t see over the store, which is blocking my view.”

The tanker took off and headed back towards the fire. Red and orange flames could be seen from the distance.

“The tanker’s doing a number on that fire,” Wayne added. “It’ll probably be contained by the time we reach Idyllwild.”

This crew from Mountain Center had just returned from fighting a blaze in Palm Springs

The ESL students, from China and Korea, were on their way home from a field trip to a fun park in Temecula. They were concerned about the smoke, but when they got to Hemet, they could see that the fire was a long distance from Idyllwild and relaxed a bit.

“I’m not afraid,” said William, an ESL student from China who is studying film.

Currently, nine of them are taking makeup classes at the academy for 8 weeks. However, today was a fun day, away from their studies.

Charles Schlacks, an Idyllwild resident, who returned from a film event in Orange, said the smoke from the Highland fire could be seen as far as Riverside.

“I was on the 215, and could see the smoke from there,” Charles said.

Wind was a big factor in other blazes around Idyllwild Saturday night.

At the Shell Station in Valle Vista, a fire crew from Mountain Center (BDF 56) was filling up and cleaning their windows. They looked tired, but said they weren’t returning from the Highland Blaze.

The brush fire they had been battling in Palm Springs was about five acres.

“Wind was a big factor today,” said one of the firefighters.

When asked about the Highland Fire, the firefighter said they had heard about it, but didn’t know why they hadn’t been called to assist.

“Maybe we’ll be called later on,” he said, as he put away the squeegee.

According to news reports, as many as 300 firefighters are are battling the blaze, including ground crews, helicopters and air tankers.

He laughed when someone asked if the Highland Blaze would be contained soon.

Smoke caused a haze over the setting sun. Mountain view of Hemet. Photo by William Liu.

“Not likely,” he said.

Driving up the hill towards Idyllwild, the smoke was casting an eerie haze over the setting sun. Several motorists had pulled over in one of the pullouts to take pictures.

Firefighters are expected to work though the night.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.