CREATED Jul. 18, 2013
Wednesday night the orders came down for people to evacuate Idyllwild -- 6,000 people ordered to move out.
Though the fire remains in sight of Palm Springs, firefighters were trying to push the fire east and away from Idyllwild and extreme south Palm Springs.
The fire is two miles from Palm Springs, and two miles from Idyllwild.
The US Forest Service says the difference is that Palm Springs is safe now, while Idyllwild is in the path of danger.
This idyllic town nestled in the mountains is eerily quiet, a ghost town.
The residents fled, but Matthew Wettlaufer returned for his cat, Dotty.
"Very relieved, you know I'd be sad if our house burned down and we lost things but I mean losing people and pets, they can't be replaced. So the idea that she'd be a casualty, really upset me this morning," said Matthew.
John, a part-time resident, is heading out now.
"It's nothing like what you see in the movies or TV, when you see the roaring flames coming at you, it's so surreal you're like, what do I do?" said John Falk.
In town, Valley Market is one of the last businesses with open doors.
"We're one of the only, we're the only store I think open in town right now to help any local or any firefighters," said Valley Market owner and Idyllwild resident, Daniel Aaronson.
The sheriff's department put yellow crime scene tape on every house they checked. They say about five percent of the people decided to take their chances and stay behind.
"There are a few of my neighbors that are still there, but that's their main house so they're going to stand and protect I guess," said John.
"We're encouraging those that have stayed behind to heed that order and leave, we cannot guarantee your safety," said Chief Patrick Reitz of the Idyllwild Fire Protection District.
The US Forest Service says the Mountain Fire is the national priority.
"When you get a column that puts up this much smoke embers get into the column it can drop anywhere, for the next two days its predicted to go right over the top of this town,: said Incident Commander Jeanne Pincha-Tulley with the US Forest Service.
The Forest Service says the fire was human caused, they're investigating.
They're also fighting the fire on the Palm Springs side of the mountain.
"We've been concentrating effort in there to keep it on mid slope using helicopters and retardant." said Pincha-Tulley.
In Idyllwild, "people gone" signs tell the tale of a town that left for safety, and are anxiously for word they can return.
"I have a lot of confidence and faith like a lot of people in Idyllwild do in the firefighters, and I guess they have like 3,000 people on the line and we're just hoping that it's going to be stopped, said Matthew.
Thursday is the first day the fire has not double in size according to CalFire.