IDYLLWILD, Calif. (July 20, 2013)--The possibility of weekend thunderstorms could be a mixed blessing for the crews fighting a wildfire in the Southern California mountains near Palm Springs because while the storms could produce much-needed moisture, they could also deliver wind, lightning and other volatile conditions that could make a tough firefight even worse.
Thousands of residents have been evacuated from the area.
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency, freeing up more state funding and other resources to help with the protracted firefight, which has already cost $8.6 million.
Residents of another 700 homes were advised to retreat to safety on Friday as fire crews grew increasingly concerned about the possibility of unstable weather and erratic winds that could last through the weekend.
The fire in the San Jacinto Mountains has spread to roughly 42 square miles and was just 15 percent contained.
Some communities on the eastern edge of the fire were reopened to residents, but about 5,600 homes remained under potential threat.