The Silver Fire erupted around 2 p.m. and quickly spread. It grew to 6,000 acres by 10 p.m. There was no estimate on containment.
The fire jumped from one home to another in the Twin Pines area as it continued eastbound. Officials said 15 structures have been destroyed. It's unknown how many of those were homes.
According to authorities, two firefighters and one civilian were injured. The extent of the injuries was not immediately known.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered for the communities of Poppet Flats, Twin Pines, Silent Valley, Vista Grande and Mt. Edna. Authorities said at least 1,500 people have been evacuated, 800 of them from the Silent Valley campground.
Lisa Redwine of Poppet Flats grabbed a few personal possessions and threw them into her truck. She got out just as the fire was getting close.
"We couldn't go the 243. The fire had already crossed over. There was like four or five of us, we had to go down the dirt roads all the way back down to the Soboba Casino through Hemet. It was pretty scary," said Redwine.
Evacuation centers for residents and animals have been set up at:
- Hemet High School, 41701 E. Stetson Ave. in Hemet.
- Beaumont High School, 39139 Cherry Valley Blvd. in Beaumont.
- San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus, 581 S. Grand Ave. in San Jacinto.
Shadow Hills RV Resort says evacuees with RVs can stay at the resort for free until the fire is contained. The resort is located at 40-655 Jefferson St. in Indio.
Highway 243 was closed between Banning and Azalea Trail in Poppet Flats. Crews fear the flames will jump over the road and continue to burn on the other side.
"It's going to be a long night out here. We've got to get those hand crews. We've got to keep pushing through, cutting that hand line. We are going to have those night flying aircraft that are going to be assisting us," said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Julie Hutchinson.
The Riverside County Fire Dept. said the fire was burning at a critical rate. More than 1,000 firefighters were on scene, as well as 13 helicopters, six air-tankers, 24 fire crews, eight bulldozers and 84 engine companies.
The jumbo DC-10 Air Tanker made numerous drops of Phos-Check to try and stop the raging flames from devouring even more homes.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. The Bureau of Land Management, Cal-Fire Riverside and the US Forest Service were among agencies assisting the Riverside County Fire Dept.