Mountain Fire cause: electrical equipment failure

Fire destroyed 27,500 acres and destroyed 7 homes

Idyllwild, Ca - The Mountain Fire, which burned more than 27,000 acres in the Idyllwild area, was caused by an electrical equipment failure on private property, it was announced Thursday.

The equipment failure happened ``on the customer side of the meter,'' according to a written statement from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, which added that no more information would be released because
the investigation was continuing.

Command of the blaze was handed over to local personnel this morning, and full containment is expected on Friday, the U.S. Forest Service said. The blaze was 92 percent contained this morning, having scorched more than 27,500 acres of the San Bernardino National Forest since breaking out near Idyllwild 10 days ago. A U.S. Forest Service statement said the cost of fighting the fire had risen to $25.2 million.  The fire's acreage has changed little since Sunday, thanks to rain from thunderstorms over last weekend and earlier this week.

The number of fire personnel assigned to the blaze continues to be reduced, with 146 remaining. The fire, which has been under the unified command of the Forest Service and Cal Fire, was turned over to a San Bernardino National Forest local team, officials said today.

The blaze has claimed 23 structures, including seven homes, but no major injuries have been reported.  The fire is believed to have started around 1:45 p.m. on July 15 near the junction of Highways 243 and 74. The 23 structures swallowed by the blazewere all destroyed on the first day of the fire.

Evacuations that affected as many as 6,000 people were lifted on Sunday.  The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway -- which closed Thursday due to fire-generated smoke -- reopened Tuesday. The nearby Mount San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness Area, several campgrounds, Humber Park and Pacific Crest Trail and its connecting trails remain closed.

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