Southern California Fire Burns Down 36 Structures, at 53 Percent Containment

By Jamie Joseph
Jamie Joseph
Jamie Joseph
Jamie is a California-based reporter covering issues in Los Angeles and state policies for The Epoch Times. In her free time, she enjoys reading nonfiction and thrillers, going to the beach, studying Christian theology, and writing poetry. You can always find Jamie writing breaking news with a cup of tea in hand.
September 12, 2022 Updated: September 13, 2022

After eight days of the Fairview Fire sweeping through Southern California’s desert communities, firefighters said the fire is now at 53 percent containment as of the afternoon of Sept. 12, with more than 28,300 acres burned. More than 1,100 structures were threatened, 36 were destroyed, and 6 were damaged.

The fire—which broke out on Labor Day—began at Fairview Avenue and Bautista Canyon Road near Hemet, California. The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

Southern California Edison—the main electricity supplier for the region—claimed in a filing Sept. 6 that “circuit activity [occurred] close in time to the reported time of the fire”—indicating a possibility that the fire started from the utility’s equipment.

Two first responder injuries, two civilian fatalities, and one minor injury have been reported, according to the fire department.

Officials expect full containment by Saturday, Sept. 17, as rain from Tropical Storm Kay helped mitigate the flames.

“Fire activity has been greatly reduced due to the moisture from [the storm]. Deep-seated heat is still present in the dense old-growth brush fields, and stump holes [and] fine flashy fuels will not sustain fire or ignition,” fire officials from the Riverside County Fire Department said on Sept. 10 at a press briefing.

Epoch Times Photo
Multiple fire agencies battle the Fairview Fire burning in Hemet, Calif., on Sept. 7, 2022. (Courtesy of Riverside County Fire Department)

Some residents preparing for evacuation orders considered the rain to be a godsend.

“My sister and I had both cars packed and dogs waiting for the evacuation. [We are] thanking God for the rain that saved all of us,” one resident, Maureen Carroll, wrote on Facebook Sept. 12.

Rainfall over the weekend provided “excellent humidity recoveries on the fire,” permitting some of the mandatory evacuation orders to be downgraded to voluntary, but residents were “highly encouraged to remain alert during this dynamic incident,” officials said.

On Sept. 11 by 4 p.m., evacuation orders covered several areas including east and west of Fairview, north and south of Highway 74, south of San Jacinto Riverbed, west of Wilson Way, north of Stetson, and east of Soboba Street. The road closure on Highway 74 was also lifted.

Epoch Times Photo
Officials are urging residents to evacuate as the Fairview Fire in Hemet, California, is still fiercely expanding, with 9,846 acres burned and only 5 percent containment as of 4:30 p.m., Sept. 7, 2022. (Courtesy of Riverside County Fire Department)

Evacuation centers are set up at Tahquitz High School and the Temecula Community Center.

Hemet Unified School District students also returned to classes Sept. 12 after a week of cancellations due to the weather conditions. The San Bernardino National Forest was also closed due to the fire.

The Riverside County Animal Shelter waived fees under the county emergency order for taking care of pets left behind because of the fire. The shelter also cared for large farm animals like horses and cattle at the Perris Fairgrounds. Small animals were admitted to a shelter in San Jacinto, north of Hemet.

Epoch Times Photo
Multiple fire agencies battle the Fairview Fire burning in Hemet, Calif., on Sept. 6, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Road closures are still in effect north of Bautista Road at Tripp Flats Road, south of Bautista Road at Fairview Avenue, north of Red Mountain Road at Stanley Road, east of Cactus Valley Road at Kelstar Road, east into Road at Sage Road, and north of Reed Valley at Red Mountain Road.

As of Monday, Sept. 12, more than 2,200 firefighters remained on the frontlines of the fire, with the county fire department, Hemet Fire Department, San Bernardino National Forest, and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department all working in tandem.

Jamie Joseph
Jamie is a California-based reporter covering issues in Los Angeles and state policies for The Epoch Times. In her free time, she enjoys reading nonfiction and thrillers, going to the beach, studying Christian theology, and writing poetry. You can always find Jamie writing breaking news with a cup of tea in hand.