California wildfire fueled by desert winds forces evacuations

By | November 1, 2023

TEMECULA, Calif., Oct 31 (Reuters) – A southern California wildfire fueled by desert winds has burned 1,010 hectares and prompted evacuation orders for more than 4,000 people in Riverside County, officials said Tuesday.

The Highland Fire nearly doubled in size between Monday evening and Tuesday, blowing westward on Santa Ana winds. The seasonal phenomenon occurs when dry desert air blows toward the ocean, creating a fire hazard in Southern California.

The fire was 10% contained as of Tuesday evening, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said, after crews attacked the fire on the ground and planes dropped fire retardant. fuchsia color.

Some 1,220 homes and 4,270 residents were under mandatory evacuation orders, while another 1,136 homes and 3,976 residents were under evacuation warnings, the Cal Fire spokesperson said , Thomas Shoots.

Authorities opened an evacuation center for people and another for animals, while those staying at an RV resort drove their campers to a Walmart parking lot in Temecula, about 15 miles away .

Some people said they left the RV complex at the urging of first responders, escaping flames that then entered the site.

“I had to grab some dog food, get in my van and leave,” Barb Bommarito said.

Robert Duke, 85, said people were unsure whether evacuation was necessary.

“It was made mandatory with law enforcement cars driving around with red and blue flashing lights and broadcasting … that we should all leave,” Duke said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, Cal Fire said, adding that the fire poses an ongoing threat with several roads closed and evacuation orders in effect.

Southern California experienced a year of gentle fire in 2023after unusually heavy rainfall, including the first tropical storm to reach densely populated areas of the state in 84 years.

Reporting by Omar Younis in Temecula, Mike Blake in Aguanga and Daniel Trotta in Carlsbad, California; Editing by Mary Milliken, Jonathan Oatis and Tom Hogue

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Acquire license rightsopen a new tab

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *