08/14/18 Warrior’s Society News – Fire Update

1. Fire Update

The burned areas will be closed until the Forest Service BAER Team (Burn Area Evaluation Response) has a chance to evaluate the area for risks to the public. The reason why we had a two year forest closure after the Silverado fire was because of an unstable ridge that they feared would collapse. We are hopeful that there will be no issues such as this. The Forest Service my close access to vehicles (only permitted uses) for a substantial period of time to prevent off-roading in the areas burned since there is no vegetation preventing their access.

We will keep you updated as to when the public will be allowed in and if the fire will have any effect on the 2019 Vision Quest and Counting Coup.

Although I now live in Yuma Arizona I still have a place in Riverside County that was threatened by the fire. Many thanks the the pilots and firefighters who stopped major damage to the various communities affected by the fire.

Below is an update on the Holy Jim/Trabuco Canyon burned area from Mike Milligan, who has the cabin at the entrance to the Holy Jim Trail. It is followed by a list of trails/road affected by the fire.

I’m so sorry for the loss of the 12 homes in Trabuco. It is a devastating loss that I simply can’t accept, despite the reality. I was there at the beginning and I know there was no chance to save any home that burned. The group of five at the Trabuco/Horsethief gate were the target of the first response, but this fire wasn’t common – – it was simply too hot and too well developed for the trucks to get close. Then, when all were moving back to regroup, Franks house began burning. I went to the helipad to see which way the winds were pushing it, and to see where it was cresting the ridge between Trabuco and Holy Jim, planning to meet it as it moved down the hill behind the Holy Jim cabins. By then, about a half hour after the first call, it had run from the starting point to Ann’s, whose house is almost directly across the ridge from mine.

As I brought the truck to the gate and hooked up a hose from Leslee’s tank to keep the truck filled, the flames began to edge down the ridge line. At that point, three helicopters began running the ridge and holding the fire back. The flames were still 30 to 40feet high, but with the incessant water drops they had nowhere to go. The remainder of the afternoon and into the evening all units worked from the helipad gate to Isaac’s, but still couldn’t get to the cabins from the Shumate’s on. The fire held to the burn area overnight, but ran to the Main Divide where the suppression continued.

By Tuesday the fire was developing on the eastern side, but a southerly wind blew it into the upper drainage of Holy Jim. When that happened, the helicopters came back and broke the progress over a 6 hour period. The same pattern developed Wednesday and Thursday afternoons about 1 pm, and the helitack continued. Thursday night was the most problematic because the front line of the flames got to about 500-600 yards above the Holy Jim gate. When that happened the Hotshots from Big Bear and San Bernardino went up Holy Jim and worked with the water drops to build a lasting fire break, one which did hold and was expanded Friday in the morning hours.

I met with OCFA Investigators, the Sheriff Investigators and the DA prosecuting the case an hour ago. They came to get a general look at the area, the locations of the houses, etc. so the investigative reports have a reference. I also called the FS Dispatch and the Corona office to let them know I had turned back three mountain bikers who had entered the area by going up Rose Canyon and dropping down at “Jeep Hill.”
I requested that they move their closure to the FS gate to prevent further access by these people (two had empty backpacks).

The D.A. Asked me to pass on his intent to prosecute this case to the fullest extent, meaning there is no thought of suggesting a reduced sentence with a guilty plea from the defendant. He is firm on his plan to ask for life imprisonment when he receives a guilty verdict. There is no specific information on the evidence they have, but all of the investigators are confident that what they have is solid. The one thing all requested is that we have patience. This process will take as much as two years, but at no point will they lessen their resolve to obtain a guilty verdict.

The cleanup, I believe, will be handled by the State because of the disaster declaration. Whether it it a complete cleanup to include all debris will probably be clarified as we go, but they are concerned about toxic materials like gas for generators, kerosene, propane tanks, etc.

I will remain here as long as I can and keep watch on the cabins that remain. If you have specific questions, email me, but remember that the cell sites were damaged, so I have to travel down to the RC airport to respond through RSM cell sites.

Mike Milligan

A list of areas burned

East and West Horse Thief


Cold Water

Indian Truck Trail

Upper Section of Los Pinos

All of the Yeager Mesa Trail

The upper part of the Bell Ridge Trail

Upper Holy Jim

Most of the Main Divide from Ortega to Santiago Peak

Very close to 4 corners

Most of El Cariso

For a map of the area burned go to:


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