Firefighters battling the 3,130-acre Hathaway Fire in the San Gorgonio Wilderness east of Banning will face cooler temperatures but drier air today, forecasters said.
The fire was 40 percent contained late Wednesday as firefighters continued the construction of fire lines around the blaze, said Don Garwood, commander of Southern California Interagency Incident Management Team 2. Full containment is expected by June 25, he said.
Line construction was nearly complete on the western and southern flanks of the fire, while the northern and eastern flanks were the areas of concentration Wednesday night, Garwood said.
A total of 1,430 firefighters from federal, state, county and Native American agencies were battling the blaze, which started shortly before noon Sunday in the northern part of the Morongo Indian Reservation, Garwood said.
Temperatures around the fire zone today are expected to reach the mid 80s, compared to the low 90s on Wednesday, said National Weather Service Meteorologist Cynthia Palmer.
Today's forecast also calls for sustained winds in the 10-20 mph range with gusts of up to 30 mph, even higher on ridge tops, she said. Those figures match wind conditions experienced in the area on Wednesday. Relative humidity is expected to decrease slightly, however, to between 15 and 20 percent, compared to 23 percent on Wednesday, Palmer said.
The fire increased by a few hundred acres on Wednesday. It is burning in a steep, remote area that is difficult to access, with a significant amount of dead trees because of the 1999-2004 drought and bark beetle infestation, Garwood said.
Forty-one hand crews, 12 helicopters, six air tankers, 50 engines, 18 water tenders and 14 bulldozers were assigned to the fire, Garwood said.
Five firefighters were injured and one outbuilding has been destroyed, Garwood said.
The blaze has been designated the Hathaway Fire because it is burning near Hathaway Canyon Road.
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