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Wilderness park to remain closed today

The Claremont Hills Wilderness Park will remain closed Friday, May 2, as firefighters continue to battle the Etiwanda Fire burning to the east of the city.

Claremont police tell the COURIER that officials will re-evaluate the situation on Saturday morning and decide at that point whether to reopen the park for weekend visitors. Updates on the closure will be posted on the city’s website at http://www.ci.claremont.ca.us.

As of Friday morning, the fire is 53 percent contained and has destroyed 2,190 acres. That number is up from Thursday’s estimate of 1,627 acres as firefighters were able to conduct an aerial survey of the burn area early Friday morning. Dustin Bryant, Public Information Officer with the United States Forest Service, says firefighters made “good progress” on the fire overnight despite high temperatures and strong winds.

Calmer winds on Friday allowed firefighters to get an aircraft in the air to survey the size of the blaze as well as one water-dropping helicopter to aide firefighters on the ground. Mr. Bryant confirms 929 firefighters, 19 crews, 55 engines, four dozers and six water tenders remain on site, battling the blaze as it moves in a northward direction on the north side of Etiwanda. Both the voluntary and mandatory evacuations of residents in the area have been lifted and local schools have reopened to students.

As a precaution, the San Bernardino County Sheriff will continue to patrol those areas closest to the fire. The North Etiwanda Preserve will remain closed until further notice. The Etiwanda Fire was first reported around 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning. The suspected cause of the fire is still under investigation and it is unknown when it will be fully contained.

“We’re being cautiously optimistic at this point,” says Mr. Bryant. “Everybody is working diligently to get the fire out.”

—Angela Bailey

news@claremont-courier.com

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