More than 300 firefighters, four helicopters and six air tankers are battling the blaze, which was reported around 1:45 p.m. The fire had burned about 1,000 acres and was about 5 percent contained as of 9 p.m.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered for the Living Free Animal Sanctuary and about 25 homes in the Mountain Center area -- 20 in the Bonita Vista housing community and four at Fleming Ranch. An evacuation center was set up at Hemet High School, located at 41701 E. Stetson Ave.
Lake Hemet campground campers from the Pine Springs Church Camp were evacuated to the Seventh Day Adventist Church at the corner of Girard Street and Stetson Avenue in Hemet.
An additional evacuation center was activated at Hamilton High School at 57430 Mitchell Road in Anza. Hamilton High School can accommodate small animals.
An animal evacuation site for large and small animals is available at the San Jacinto Animal Shelter at 581 South Grand Avenue, San Jacinto. Call (951) 358-7387.
Highway 243 was closed at Saunders Meadow Road and eastbound Highway 74 was closed at the U.S. Forest Service's Cranston Guard Station.