Cranston Fire: A Year Later

Daytona Everett

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It’s been a year of rebuilding for the town of Idyllwild after the Cranston Fire swept through leaving them with lasting scars. Residents said it hasn’t been an easy process and they still have a long way to go when it comes to their businesses, roads and greenery.

“It just barely missed this little supply store.” Stephanie May, a worker at Mountain Feed and Hay, said. “I mean, if you look behind you, you see burnt trees.”

After the fire hit, May worried the store would go under like other businesses in town. As time progressed, people started to return.

“People went to Lake Hemet, people have come up to Idyllwild for a lot of the nice parties and things,” she said. 

Walking around town, each person has a different story. Some stories are luckier than others.

“There’s a man that comes to Forest Lumber where I work,” Leisa Wood said about a man who lost his home from the fire. “He gets things everyday and it’s really sad, he’s on the property in a trailer trying to make things work still but has a lot of hope.”

Wood said she also has hope; hope that things will return to normal.

Unfortunately, there is still another roadblock. In fact, two roadblocks. Highway 74 and 243 are still being repaired due to the Valentine’s Day Flood.

“It helped a little bit when they started doing escorts in the morning and the evenings but the weekend really helped out,” May said.

California Highway Patrol is escorting cars up and down the Anza side of Highway 74. For a long time, drivers were only able to use the Palm Desert side. The inconvenience almost doubled the commute for some drivers.

May said the rebuilding progress of the charred mountain as a whole is slow but noticeable.

“It’s getting there, I think we’re about 60-40 right now.”

Even the scenery is starting to look different.

“Now, if you look around on the ground you can see a lot of greenery coming back and the leaves coming back on the trees,” she said.

CHP said they do not know when the highways will be fully repaired. It could take months or even years. Crews continue to delay work due to weather concerns such as rainfall and flash floods.

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