Fairview Fire near Hemet explodes to more than 27,000 acres, prompting new evacuation orders

Friday, September 9, 2022
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Firefighters struggled to gain control of a major wildfire near Hemet that has grown explosively and forced extensive evacuations amid a searing heat wave.

HEMET, Calif. (KABC) -- More residents near the deadly Fairview Fire near Hemet were under evacuation orders Thursday as the deadly wildfire's size was listed at more than 27,000 acres, with an "expected full containment" date listed by authorities as Monday.

The Riverside County Fire Department late Thursday reported that the fire had grown to 27,319 acres and remained 5% contained, despite a stepped-up response by firefighters struggling to slow the speed of the flames' advance. The size of the fire was listed at 19,377 acres as of 7 a.m. Thursday by fire officials -- meaning the blaze tripled in size over the previous 24 hours.

The two victims killed in the fire have not been identified, but Riverside County fire officials believe they were trying to escape the flames in that canyon. Their bodies were found in a burned car, and authorities believe they were related.

"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.

A third person, also believed to be related to the other victims, was hospitalized with burn injuries and is expected to survive.

The cause of the fire was under investigation. In a document filed with the California Public Utilities Commission, Southern California Edison reported "circuit activity" in the area close to the time the fire erupted.

Evacuations were ordered for thousands of homes in the area.

At 1 p.m. Thursday, Cal Fire announced that the area east of De Portola Road, west of Sage Road, north of East Benton Road and south of Diamond Valley Road was under a mandatory evacuation.

Around the same time, a new evacuation warning was posted south of Rawson Road, east of Washington Street and Anza Road, west of Highway 74 and north of Highways 79 and 371, where residents were advised to be prepared to leave should conditions change for the worse.

Fire officials also announced a new evacuation order for the area west of Highway 74, north of 317, east of Springbrook Road and South of the U.S. Forest Service Boundary.

Mandatory evacuations remained in place for residents south of Cactus Valley Road, north of Minto Way, north of Red Mountain Road, west of the U.S. Forest Service boundary and east of Sage, west of Wilson Way, south of Highway 74, east of Fairview Avenue, north of Stetson Avenue, south of Minto, south of Red Mountain, west and north of Stanley Road, and east of Sage.

Other evacuation warnings were active for those living west of Reed Valley Road and west of the USFS boundary, south of Stanley and north of Wilson Valley Road.

Highway 74 in the San Bernardino National Forest was fully closed between Mountain Center and Borco Street, which is in Valle Vista.

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 would remain closed until further notice because of the fire.

City News Service contributed to this report.