Fairview Fire: Evacuation orders remain in place after 2 killed in 4,500-acre blaze in Hemet

Fire officials say the blaze has the potential to burn up 7,000 acres.

ByEric Resendiz, Rob McMillan, and ABC7.com staff via KABC logo
Wednesday, September 7, 2022
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The Fairview Fire in Hemet has now spread to 4,000 acres and just 5% containment as firefighters continue their battle to protect homes in the area.

HEMET, Calif. (KABC) -- A wildfire in Hemet that killed two people and injured another has burned at least 4,500 acres, and thousands of homes remained under evacuation orders Tuesday.

The Fairview Fire broke out Monday afternoon in the area of Fairview Avenue and Bautista Road and destroyed at least seven structures - several of them apparently homes - and damaged several others, according to the Riverside County Fire Department. The blaze was 5% contained as of 3 p.m.

Tuesday morning officials said given the available fuel and weather conditions, the blaze has the potential to burn up to 7,000 acres.

"This fire was moving in an opposite direction that it would normally do on a typical day this time of year," said Josh Ansen, Cal Fire's incident commander for the fire. "So instead of a... southwest wind it was coming out of the east and pushed that fire to the west down Avery Canyon."

WATCH: Evacuated residents keeping close eye on Fairview Fire in Hemet

The two victims of the fire have not been identified, but Riverside County fire officials believe they were trying to escape the flames in that canyon. They were both found in the same area, but it's unknown if they were related or knew each other.

"That area is a one way in, one way out. So if you don't leave in time, or if you get trapped by fire, there's no other way to go," said Cal Fire's Richard Cordova.

Evacuations were ordered for thousands of homes in the area. The initial evacuation applied to the area south of Thornton Avenue, north of Polly Butte Road, west of Fairview Avenue and east of State Street.

The evacuation area was later expanded to include the area south of Stetson, north of Cactus Valley Road, west of Fairview and east of State Street.

Additional evacuation warnings were issued overnight for Bautista Canyon Road, south of Stetson and north of the Two Streams Fork trailhead.

By Tuesday afternoon, the mandatory evacuation area was expanded once again, to: Thomas Mountain Ridge South to Cactus Valley to Bautista Canyon to the forest boundary.

Additional evacuation warnings were also issued for the area south of Highway 74 to Thomas Mountain, west of Mountain Center and north of Cactus Valley, and Anza north of Highway 371 to the forestry boundary.

By 6 p.m. Tuesday, new evacuation warnings were issued for the areas south of Cactus Valley Road, east of Sage Road, north of Red Mountain Road and west of Bautista Canyon in Sage.

Evacuees could remain out of their homes for up to five days, if not more, fire officials said.

Officials also issued a boil water notice for residents in the fire-affected areas in east Hemet. Those residents are being advised to only use boiled tap water or bottled water for drinking and cooking purposes as a safety precautions.

A care center for evacuees was established at Tahquitz High School, 4425 Titan Trail in Hemet.

The Hemet Unified School District said schools will be closed Tuesday because of the fire.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.