Firefighters on Wednesday made inroads into a wildfire in Southern California, but officials said dozens of homes and other buildings remained threatened by the blaze that at one point saw thousands of people ordered to evacuate.
The Highland Fire in rural Riverside County southeast of Los Angeles has remained mildly active as Santa Ana winds that pushed it through the rolling hills eased and fire crews had it 20% contained as of Wednesday. night, said Rob Roseen, a fire spokesman.
“It’s a favorable condition for the firefighters” but the humidity remains low and the rough terrain makes the work challenging for the approximately 1,200 firefighters, Roseen said.
The size of the fire remains unchanged at just under 4 square miles (10 square kilometers).
One firefighter was injured but is in stable condition, said Roseen. He had no details.
Gusty, dry Santa Ana winds were blowing Monday when the fire broke out near rural Aguanga in Riverside County about 53 miles (85 kilometers) north of San Diego. Evacuation orders were issued for 4,000 residents as the fire spread rapidly.
As progress was made against the fire, several evacuation orders were lowered to warnings on Wednesday, and several thousand people were allowed to return home but about 2,500 homes and other buildings remained threatened, it said. the authorities.
Even if the forecast is favorable for the next few days, those allowed to return home should remain cautious, Roseen said.
“There’s always a chance the winds could pick up,” he said.
Seven homes and other buildings were destroyed and six others were damaged, authorities said.
Retiree George Boyles told The Press-Enterprise that at first the fire seemed far away but suddenly it came to his house. He and his wife, Lucila, had originally planned to drive away but had to ride out the storm in an open area of dirt on their property.
Their home and garage were destroyed, Boyles said, adding that they paid off the property in April.
Another resident, Luis Quinonez, was gone when one of his two properties caught fire. No one was injured, and her dogs, cats, chickens and chickens all survived, she told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Santa Ana winds, which have a long history of fueling wildfires in the region, blow from the interior toward the Pacific Coast. Dry air drains moisture from plants, making them more prone to fire. Forecasters predict the return of moist ocean air on Friday.