The Fairview fire in Hemet, California, is rapidly spreading across several Southern California communities as 4,500 acres have burned with 5 percent contained as of 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6.
Evacuation orders remain in place and were extended at 2:19 p.m. Tuesday to communities further east, including Thomas Mountain Ridge South, Cactus Valley, Bautista Canyon, and the forest boundary.The cause of the fire is still being investigated. But Southern California Edison Tuesday told the California Public Utilities Commission that “circuit activity” occurred during the time the fire began Sept. 5 at approximately 3:37 p.m.
The blaze, which began in Hemet on Monday afternoon, was moving further east—a 180-degree shift of the wind that officials could not explain.
“This fire was moving in an opposite direction that it would normally do on a typical day this time of year,” Josh Janssen, battalion chief of Riverside County Fire Department, said Tuesday morning.
Two fatalities have been reported as people attempted to flee the fire, and three individuals are being treated for injuries.
Seven structures have been damaged or destroyed as of Monday night, according to authorities.
Evacuation warnings included the area south of Highway 74 to Thomas Mountain, west of Mountain Center and north of Cactus Valley, and Anza north of Highway 371.
As of 6:00 p.m., evacuation warnings extended to South of Cactus Valley Road, East of Sage Road, North of Red Mountain Road, and West of Bautista Canyon in Sage.
“We are bringing in additional resources from our agency all over the county to assist with extra patrol in the areas in which … residents and community had to leave abruptly and weren't able to secure their home as they normally would,” Riverside County Sgt. Brandy Swan said Tuesday morning at a media briefing. “We are vigorously patrolling those streets … and also looking for any additional people that need assistance.”
Residents should expect to remain out of their homes for at least four to five days, officials said.
After classes were canceled on Tuesday, schools in the Hemet Unified School District will remain closed Sept. 7, according to a district announcement.
Record-high temperatures and light winds concerned firefighters on Tuesday, as the heat prompted the California grid operator to issue a Level 3 warning for residents to switch off their electricity as much as possible to avoid power outages.
Some parts of Hemet reached a high of 109 degrees on Tuesday.