The Lake Fire broke out on June 17, 2015 just south of Jenks Lake Road. The area had not burned in about 100 years; coupled with a record drought year and winds, it exploded in size overnight. The San Gorgonio Wilderness was closed to visitors and evacuations were ordered for public campsites, organization camps, and homes in the area. Over 32,000 acres burned with the fire not fully contained until mid-July.
Heroic efforts by firefighters saved almost all public and private structures, organization camps, and public campgrounds, including the popular Coon Creek Cabin and structures in Horse Meadows on the South Fork Trail. Only one residence and some outbuildings in the far northeast part of the fire were destroyed.
As of this writing (August 2016) many of the trails on the north side of the Wilderness are still closed for public safety. SGWA volunteers in cooperation with the Forest Service have cleared and restored the Pacific Crest Trail to Onyx Summit along with the Santa Ana River Trail. Further surveying and trail work is in progress.
Fire is a natural part of wilderness. Even though this particular fire was of human origin, fire is still part of the cycle and cannot be avoided forever. Many of the forest areas we loved are irrevocably changed; but significant regrowth including many more beautiful wildflowers and a renewed aspen grove are already occurring. We (and our children and grandchildren) will know new vistas.
Our gallery of photos illustrates the aftermath of the fire and the recovering wilderness. We will add photos over time.