IDYLLWILD — An impressive mural that pays homage to the brave firefighters who battled the Cranston Fire during summer and put their lives on the line has been unveiled here.
Riverside County Third District County Supervisor Chuck Washington, joined by firefighters and law enforcement, presided over the unveiling Nov. 20 of the community’s newest piece of art at the Idyllwild Public Library. The “Heroes Mural” pays tribute to firefighters, notably those who protected the Idyllwild community after a fire broke out in July along State Route 74.
The Cranston Fire, as it was called, ultimately blackened more than 13,000 acres in the San Jacinto Mountains, burning homes and structures and forcing the evacuation of Idyllwild, Lake Hemet, Mountain Center and Pine Cove. The scars of the fire remain visible.
“The mural represents the hard work that both law enforcement and the firefighters do to keep the community safe,” Washington said in a prepared statement. He was joined by Idyllwild Fire Chief Patrick Reitz, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Leonard Purvis of the Valle Vista station and members of CalFire.
The mural by artist Keith Blum spans the back exterior wall of the library, which is part of the Riverside County Library System. The painting depicts firefighters from multiple agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, CalFire and Idyllwild Fire. Blum was originally inspired to paint a mural while attending an art show in Idyllwild. When the Cranston Fire broke out, Blum watched the fire and smoke from his home in Palm Springs.
“I saw the smoke coming off the mountain, thick and dark, often blocking out the sun and dropping ash on us,” he said, adding that he was moved to donate his mural after seeing the “valiant efforts of the firefighters” to protect homes in Idyllwild.
Blum spent a month painting the tribute to Cranston firefighters with local businesses donating supplies, meals and lodging, according to news release. He included a special thank you to his supporters in the mural.
“We are so excited to have this. We are so blessed to have this in our town,” Chief Reitz said. “We all come together for a common cause and that is to help our fellow human beings.”
A Temecula man was ordered Nov. 16, to stand trial on 15 felony charges that allege he intentionally set the Cranston fire and other blazes near Idyllwild in the San Jacinto Mountains.
The Idyllwild Branch Library is located at 54401 Village Center Drive.
The Third Supervisorial District includes the cities of Hemet, Murrieta, San Jacinto and Temecula. It also includes the unincorporated communities of Aguanga, Anza, Cottonwood Canyon, French Valley, Gilman Hot Springs, Green Acres, Homeland, Idyllwild, Lake Riverside, Mountain Center, Murrieta Hot Springs, Pine Cove, Pinyon Pines, Poppet Flats, Rancho California, Soboba Hot Springs, Twin Pines, Valle Vista and Winchester.
Visit www.supervisorchuckwashington.com for more information.