By: Kloe Adams
On the afternoon of Oct. 30, a large wildfire in southern California broke out in the dry and bushy hills of Highlands and Aguanga. The fire was ten percent contained by nightfall, but still threatened over 2,400 homes. The first firefighters to arrive at the scene encountered “a fire burning with a moderate rate of spread,” according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
Since then, however, it has intensified. “1,200 firefighters are working to put out the fire that destroyed at least 13 structures and damaged seven others as of [Nov. 3],” Cal Fire Officials reported. Crews used helicopters and dropped over 4,200 gallons of water on the wind-driven flames to try and slow down the blaze. The winds that fueled the flames were from Santa Ana. While the fire showed minimal growth on Oct. 31, winds were forecasted for the evening, possibly spreading the fire west and southwest. The National Weather Service noted, “these strong winds can cause major property damage, and they also increase wildfire risk because of the dryness of the winds and the speed at which they can spread a flame across the landscape.” Since then, the Santa Ana winds have diminished, leading forecasters to predict a return of moist ocean air. Cal Fire Captain Thomas Shoots commented on the weather saying “We really need these breaks in the weather to really make a hard stand and put these fires to bed.”
Evacuation orders in parts of Aguanga were issued, about 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Areas south of Highway 79, near the Riverside and San Diego country borders also received evacuation orders. The evacuation orders affected almost 4,000 people and 1,139 homes. One resident told FOX 11 Los Angeles “There was nothing we could do.” When the flames approached his home, he said they were 50 to 60 feet tall. Since the fire forced many residents to evacuate quickly, many animals and livestock were left behind. A care and reception center was set up at Great Oak High School for anyone impacted by the fire. The care reception center was able to take any animals to the San Jacinto Animal Shelter for care.
George Boyles and his wife Lucila, residents of Aguanga, told The Press-Enterprise that the fire seemed far away at first, but was suddenly approaching their home. Boyles and his wife initially planned to drive away from the fire, but instead, they had to ride out the firestorm in a nearby cleared area of dirt on their property. Boyles added the fire destroyed his house and garage.
Overall, the fire burned nearly 2,487 acres, and as of Nov. 5, 100 percent is contained. The fire caused minimal damage and harm, with 10 destroyed structures, 6 damaged structures, and two firefighter injuries.
(Sources: AP News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Times)
Categories: Local News