September 24 • 7:03 p.m.
Praise the Lord. Residents are allowed to return home in the Angelus Oaks area. Our staff are making their way home as I write. The road was opened at 6 p.m. this evening. I found out at 5 p.m. that this might happen but did not want to jump the announcement. I wanted to wait for the official word.
There is no fire damage at camp except for smoke residue.
Thank you all for your prayers. The camp is safe.
September 24 • 8:33 a.m.
Today, firefighters will be searching for additional hot spots and mopping up around Angelus Oaks, Jenks Lake and near the West Fork of Barton Creek. Firefighters continue to build and re-enforce containment lines; progress is being made in these critical areas. Trees that are burning at the base could fall across the containment lines and crews will be monitoring this issue throughout the day.
Fuels remain critically dry, spot fires and rolling hot material remain a concern, but is diminishing daily. All lower portions of the fire remain in patrol status.
The large rock and debris slide that had caused the closure of Highway 38 between mile marker 16 and 17 has somewhat stabilized with less rocks coming down onto the roadway. The highway remains open only to emergency vehicles. Caltrans continues to patrol the highway and clear rocks and debris.
Thank you Jesus for the progress that is being made.
September 23 • 1:01 p.m.
Today, firefighters continued to build containment lines, check for hot spots and mop-up around the fire line. Helicopters and FireBoss Airtankers made airdrops throughout the day supporting firefighters on the ground attacking flare ups and hot spots.
Firefighters remain vigilant as fire backs down slopes and burns off the fuels in the remaining areas that have not reached Highway 38. Firefighters continue to mop up and strengthen containment lines around structures in Angeles Oak and Forest Falls communities. Fuels are still critically dry and spot fires continue to be of concern as containment lines remain at risk due to hot rolling material along the Highway 38 corridor. Infrared mapping is still showing hot spots up slope from Highway 38 below the 5000’ level.
Hope the evacuation will be lifted soon for the residents of camp. There are no open flames, just hot spots and embers flying. This condition can change as the weather is so unpredictable.
September 22 • 2:32 p.m.
The El Dorado Fire has been burning for 18 days and is currently 22,588 acres with 60% containment. The fire continues to hold within existing containment lines. The fire is flanking and backing within the perimeter, with occasional short runs and tree torching when fire finds receptive fuel beds.
Firefighters continue to construct containment lines, attack flare ups and mop-up around the fire line. While good progress is being made along Highway 38, rock and debris slides of burning material along Highway 38 still remain a threat to the fire perimeter. Firefighters remain vigilant as fire backs down slopes and burns off the fuels in the remaining areas that have not reached Highway 38.
The fire has pushed wildlife toward camp. It is wonderful to see deer and other animals in camp. I left food around camp for them to eat.
Waiting for camp to open once again so we can all enjoy the beauty of Camp Cedar Falls.
Prayers are heard and the Lord is blessing.
The El Dorado’s Fire behavior has moderated however, critically dry fuels still exist, and spot fires continue to occur. A large rock and debris slide has caused the closure of Highway 38 between mile marker 16 and 17. CalTrans are clearing the road as I write. The fire has met the highway on the slopes to the south of Angelus Oaks, and down the north aspect slopes to Highway 38. Fuels remain critically dry and receptive to spot fires. Containment lines remain at risk due to hot rolling material along the Highway 38 corridor.
Our prayers are being answered. The fire is trying to progress but the hand of the Lord is helping by holding the fire south of Highway 38 and not crossing the highway.
Please pray that the Lord may intervene and this fire may cease to exist.
Remember to pray for and praise our first responders. Enclosed is a picture of some of the the first responders on our camp.
September 20 • 11:55 a.m.
The El Dorado’s Fire behavior overnight has decreased compared to the previous daytime period. Fire behavior decreased to the east as it burned into the old Lake Fire burn scar. With the forecasted weather, firefighters continue to make progress building containment lines and putting in hose lays around in key areas on the fire. The fire continues to back down to Highway 38 with some upslope runs. Spot fires remain a concern along the 38 corridor.
Keep praying and hopefully the fire will be soon controlled totally. At present, it is 60% contained and the front of the fire is still hovering above our camp.
All staff are doing well off the camp ground. They are with relatives or friends. Electricity was restored on Friday which has been off for almost 2 weeks. There is a large generator on camp that holds 100 gallons of diesel, burning 6 gallons an hour.
Prayers are still needed. We all have to remember that everything is in God's control. We need to trust more and turn everything over to Him. He holds the future.
September 19 • 1:58 p.m.
The El Dorado Fire, facing the camp, continues to burn actively along Highway 38 and in and around Angelus Oaks. Spot fires remain a concern in this area. The spot fires that occurred have been rapidly managed by air and ground resources in the area. There are fire trucks and more than 15 firefighters on camp to put out any hot spots from the embers from the fire.
In addition, the firefighters have cleared thirty feet areas around the cabins and meeting areas of dry leaves and brush that might ignite with flying embers. The roof of our buildings were also cleared of leaves. They have also removed trees and trimmed back branches that were too close to the buildings. They have truly gone the extra mile to protect our camp and are owed our sincere gratitude.
Let us continue to Pray and Praise for the safety of our first responders.
September 18 • 1:31 p.m.
I received Pastor Bob’s message this morning, which is very brief but very clear: Our Camp Cedar Falls still safe in spite of the fires in the area. Let’s keep before the Lord our camp, the other residents in the area, and the firefighters. He is still doing miracles. Have all a blessed Sabbath.
Velino A. Salazar, SCC President
Here is the official statement this morning from the fire department. It was within the hour.
As of now CCF is safe and no fire hot spots or flames on our campus.
September 16 • 10:42 p.m.
As of 2 hours ago, the US Forest Service reported that the fire is slowly backing down at a lower intensity towards a retardant line placed on Highway 38 from Angelus Oaks to Lake Williams Road, which is approximately 10 miles in distance. Hundreds of firefighters are planning to use Highway 38 as a fuel-break and plan to stop the fire from spreading toward Big Bear. I saw hundreds of fire trucks on Highway 38 yesterday as I left camp.
Camp Cedar Falls' entrance is located on Highway 38, 2.8 miles from Angelus Oaks. Our camp will be protected if everything goes as planned. These firefighters are professionals who know what they are doing, but we are not out of danger yet and solicit your prayers for these first responders and for God's continued protection of the camp.
Jim Oliver and I met today at length to discuss what to do with Chester, our bear, who passed away the day after his evacuation from camp. We communicated with the Fish and Wildlife Department, the director of the Exotic Wildlife Preserve and the USDA. Since he is of a protected wild species, there are many rules and regulations by the state and federal government to be followed.
We had three options. The first was to bring Chester back to camp and bury him on our property. The second was to take him to a taxidermist where they are trained to deal with the skin and fur of a deceased animal using special materials to make them look alive. The third option presented was to donate his remains to a non-profit educational group in the high desert. They have volunteer taxidermists who would create Chester to look real and use him in their educational programs visiting school and other special events.
After much prayer for the right decision, Jim and I decided to donate Chester to the non-profit education program where he will continue to inspire and teach children more about nature.
I am negotiating to have this group come to our Adventurer Rally in the spring and bring Chester and other animals to inspire our kids.
Thank you again for your support and prayers.
September 16, 2020 • 9:30 a.m.
Dear SCC family,
It is with sadness that I announce that our beloved Chester, our bear at CCF, passed last night at the age of 12 in a peaceful environment in a wild animal shelter in the Victorville area.
This early morning, Pastor Bob Wong informed me about this tragedy. He told me that the bear “didn’t survive the trauma” he experienced yesterday: the noise of the helicopters flying very low over CCF; every single time when a helicopter approached CCF, Chester was scared and ran into his “cave.” Pastor Bob called him, and the bear came out his den in the big cage while waiting for the truck to take him out of CCF. During the few waiting hours, Pastor Bob was with him trying to provide some emotional support that he was not abandoned, and he came closer to Pastor Bob, who fed him.
Finally, yesterday, early afternoon, he was removed from our camp and was transferred to an animal shelter in Hesperia, CA.
Last night, Pastor Bob received a phone call from the animal shelter agent to inform that Chester was ok. But this morning, it was reported that Chester passed during the night. Very sad news.
Reflecting on this within the last hour, a couple of things came to my mind:
- Our traditional bear at CCF has been an inspiration for the children camping there for weekends or weeks. Kids always were excited to see this wonderful creature. Many camp counselors and speakers used it to illustrate stories or other applications, and the kids were blessed. Thank Lord for allowing us to enjoy your creation.
- Our Camp Directors, Pastor Bob, and Jim Oliver, have cared for this lovely bear for about 10 years. Chester was their pet, and they worked hard to save him; they are heroes; and right now, both are mourning the passing of their friend. Please keep them both in our prayers, along with the camp staff who are safe out of the camp.
Thank you, Pastor Bob, Jim, and camp staff for what you do keeping that sanctuary in nature in good shape that we can enjoy it when we go up there. Many blessings from our God to all of you, and we are praying for you, dear friends.
Velino A. Salazar, SCC President
September 15, 2020 • 10:58 p.m.
Dear Team Members & Folks Praying,
Thank you for all your prayers.
What a day it has been. I was planning to spend 30 minutes this morning at camp to feed the bear and leave. That is what I told my police friend who escorted me to camp. The hill is closed to all residents and visitors. It is called a hard closure. Nobody goes up the mountain except authorized individuals — police, fire and civil defense. This morning there were over 100 fire trucks with over 300 firefighters at Angelus Oaks.
Today, the fire was burning on the hilltop south east of the Lodge. Smoke and flames were visible. Tonight the winds will have an effect on the direction of the fire.
Prayers are still needed.
After arriving at camp, the fire captain told me if he had to make the decision, he would evacuate the bear now. All my contacts to take the bear out of camp were negative. Either the organization was out of business or stretched too thin. By noon the Lord lead to a rescue rehab center. They were called and came immediately. Chester, the bear, is safe at this center near Victorville. It felt as if a ton of weights were lifted off my back. The Lord blessed.
Another blessing is when I met with the fire captain this morning, I offered Camp Cedar Falls to be used by the Fire Department. I opened all the restrooms and cabins for firefighters. The captain assured that he and his staff will do everything to save the camp if the fire reaches our property. When I left camp late this evening, there were more than 10 engines and 30 firefighters on our campus. More were expected to arrive as I left.
Let us remember to pray for and praise our first responders.
September 15, 2020 • 1:50 p.m.
Dear SCC Family,
It is with urgency, helplessness, and humbleness that I quickly and briefly write to you inviting all SCC church members to pray for the intervention of God to save Camp Cedar Falls. CCF is in serious danger.
This afternoon at 2 p.m., let’s begin a season of prayer for the rest of the afternoon at any time you can, please spend 15 minutes in prayer reflecting in the ministry that has happened at CCF. Let’s supplicate our loving God to preserve this sacred grounds untouchable as another evidence of His power and care for those who believe in Him, and as a testimony to the unbelievers. He will receive all the recognition and praise for His loving act.
This camp is a sanctuary in nature where many people have encountered and met God there. This is the main and most important purpose of our beloved 75-year-old camp.
Please read Pastor Bob Wong’s message below. He is at CCF right now, and is safe waiting to take our bear from camp. I called him. Let’s pray for God to protect him right now.
PLEASE FORWARD THIS MESSAGE TO MEMBERS AND FRIENDS OF THE SDA CHURCH IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CONFERENCE.
Velino A. Salazar, SCC President
From Bob Wong:
Getting closer to Angelus Oaks
Meet with Fish & Wildlife tomorrow at 9 AM in Mentone
Will know more tomorrow
Will keep you informed
Just had prayer session with advisory
Sep 14 8:08pm
Fire on ridge above camp. Can see flames.
Firefighters on camp. A lot of them. Chief said they will do everything to save camp.
Opened shop, bathrooms and anything they need.
Waiting to evacuate bear to Hisperia at 1 pm hopefully
3 hrs ago
September 12, 2020
What a day it has been. Jim Oliver and I met with the Fish and Wildlife officer at 9 a.m. this morning. He escorted us up to Camp Cedar Falls because there is a hard closure of the highway 38 both ways to camp. I followed him and behind was a Sheriff's SUV.
Just as we passed the CHP's barricade, we had to park on the side of the road. A caravan of fire trucks was going up the hill. There were so many, and I lost count. Each truck was filled to capacity with firefighters. We waited a little longer, another huge caravan of fire trucks started coming down. You could see the dirty, tired faces of the firefighters. They were being relieved by the crew that we saw going up. Fire trucks from all of the US were in the area. I felt AWE as I watched the trucks pass by. I just wanted to stand outside of my car and salute all of them. It was more touching and exciting than attending the Rose Parade.
Let's pray for and praise all the first responders for the wonderful job they are doing. We have so much to be thankful for.
As I was driving up to Angelus Oaks, both sides of the road were charred. You could see firefighters working putting out hot spots.
The fire was stopped about 2 miles before Angelus Oaks. There was a thick line of retardant (phosphorus) from the top of the mountain, across the road and down the hill. The fire did not cross that line. It is amazing.
Arriving at camp, I went directly to the bear enclosure. I called his name and Chester literally ran to me. I fed him and cleaned his cage while Jim checked the camp. We wanted to evacuate Chester but there was no available place to take him. Everything from personnel to the refuge centers are spread very thin.
However, there are no winds at the present time and as long as it stays that way, we are fine. In addition, the fire fighters are creating fire breaks and doing preventive tasks.
The Fish and Wildlife officer said he would work with us concerning the bear. He said even if he has to work on his day off, he will watch our bear. He has a plan if the fire starts up. I will go to camp again on Tuesday to check on the bear and camp.
Several people called with suggestions and I thanked them for their concern. I wish it was as easy as they suggested, but there is a lot of red tape when dealing with the authorities.
Please pray for the first responders and our camp including our bear.
FYI: A helicopter pilot was killed when his water-dropping chopper crashed. He was a Seventh-day Adventist member with a wife and several kids. Let's remember this dear family in our prayers.
Thank you again for all you are doing during this time of crisis. Your prayers and support are appreciated.
Blessing to all.
Bob Wong, SCC Youth Ministries Director