A deadly wildfire that prompted evacuations south of Hemet grew to more than 9,800 acres Wednesday, with no change in containment despite a stepped-up response by fire crews struggling to slow the speed of the flames’ advance.

The Fairview Fire was reported shortly after 2 p.m. Monday on Fairview Avenue and Bautista Road, and began spreading rapidly. By Wednesday morning, the blaze was mapped at 5,000 acres, but it grew to more than 7,000 by 10 a.m. Its size was placed at 9,846 acres by late Wednesday afternoon.

Containment was holding at 5%, the same percentage it has been since Monday evening.

Cal Fire Battalion Chief Josh Janssen said firefighters were strategically dispersed Wednesday, following a day that saw the flames “outpace our efforts.”

The blaze was pushing into the San Bernardino National Forest, and on Tuesday, Cal Fire established unified command with the U.S. Forest Service. Janssen expressed hope Wednesday morning the tactical realignment would allow crews to get a better handle on the fire, which he said was burning with active flames on all sides. Despite the efforts, however, the fire nearly doubled in size between Wednesday morning and Wednesday afternoon.

A community meeting with personnel from Cal Fire and the Forest Service was slated for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Garner Valley Fire Station, 59200 Morris Ranch Road, Mountain Center.

A new evacuation order was issued at 4 p.m. Wednesday for residents south of Cactus Valley Road, north of Minto Way, north of Red Mountain Road, west of the national forest boundary and east of Sage Road.

Mandatory evacuation orders remain in place for a wide area south of Stetson Avenue, north of Cactus Valley Road, west of Bautista Canyon and east of State Street.

A new evacuation warning was posted Wednesday afternoon for the area beginning east of Red Mountain Road and the forest service boundary, south to Minto, south to Red Mountain, west of Stanley Road and east of Sage Road.

A warning that was issued Monday for Bautista Canyon Road, south of Stetson and north of the Two Streams Fork trailhead, was converted to a mandatory evacuation Tuesday due to the proximity of flames to homes in the area. Additional evacuations were later ordered south of Cactus Valley Road and east to Thomas Mountain Ridge.

Evacuation warnings were extended east into the Mountain Center area, with warnings in place along Highway 74. Warnings were also issued north of Highway 371 in the Cahuilla Indian Reservation and Anza.

Hemet Unified School District campuses remained closed Wednesday.

The Riverside County Emergency Management Department declared a local emergency Wednesday in response to the fire and to enable the county to apply for federal and state relief. The Board of Supervisors is slated to formally approve the proclamation during its meeting Tuesday. Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency covering the fire zone Tuesday.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District extended smoke advisories to 5 p.m. Thursday because of the layers emanating from the Fairview Fire. The agency advised people in sensitive health to take precautions wherever drift smoke or ash is present.

Multiple Cal Fire air tankers and water-dropping helicopters were making runs on the brusher during daylight hours.

A temporary flight restriction was established directly over the fire, barring civilian aircraft from coming within a 15-mile ring, from Hemet to Lake Hemet, well inside the San Bernardino National Forest.

Officials said the fire resulted in two civilian fatalities and one civilian burn injury. Sheriff’s officials confirmed Wednesday the two deceased victims were found inside a vehicle in the 42400 block of Avery Canyon Road in East Hemet Monday, apparently overcome by the flames while trying to flee. The two victims, who have not been identified, are believed to be related.

A woman, also believed to be related to the other victims, was found severely burned outside the vehicle. She was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive, according to a sheriff’s official.

At least seven buildings have been destroyed and several more were damaged.

More than 1,500 homes were affected by the evacuation orders earlier Tuesday. It was unclear how many more were added to the total when orders were expanded later in the day.

An evacuation center was set up at Tahquitz High School at 4425 Titan Trail, Hemet.

The Department of Animal Services said the San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus was accepting large and small domestic creatures, including livestock, for safekeeping. As of Monday night, 12 dogs, six cats and a pet rabbit were placed in the facility, located at 581 S. Grand Ave., San Jacinto.

All fees for retaining pets will be waived under the county emergency order, agency spokesman John Welsh said.

He said animal control officers have been patrolling the evacuation zone to search for stranded animals. No horses have been impounded, but “an officer provided water and food for a potbellied pig, and another officer provided water for a herd of goats,” Welsh said.

According to Caltrans, the following corridors were closed to southbound traffic in East Hemet: Stanford Street, Dartmouth Street, Cornell Street, Aurora Drive, Columbia Street, Yale Street, Girard Street, San Jacinto Street, Santa Fe Street, Meridian Street, Hemet Street, Lake Street and Fairview Avenue.

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.

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