As fire season starts, roads remain washed out and Idyllwild ponders its escape routes

IDYLLWILD, CALIF. — The Inn had a wedding scheduled for the weekend. A bridge and groom had arrived just as White heard authorities beginning to close roads.

He knocked on their door, and they agreed to help him prepare to evacuate. As they were turning off propane tanks, Christina Reitz, the Idyllwild fire chief’s wife, pulled up in her truck and asked White and his guests what they were still doing in town, telling them they needed to evacuate immediately.

“At that point, the town was full of smoke. There were sirens and the atmosphere seemed like a war scene,” White remembered.

White made sure all his guests had evacuated before leaving. By that time, the California Highway Patrol had closed two of the three routes off of the mountain and a line of cars was backing up on Highway 243 — the only remaining route out of Idyllwild. — USA TODAY

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