All evacuation warnings related to a 700-acre fire that broke out in the Cleveland National Forest a few miles southwest of Wildomar were lifted Friday, though mandatory evacuations were still in place.
The blaze was reported about 12:30 p.m. Thursday in the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness area, south of the Ortega (74) Highway and Main Divide Road.
It was 15 percent contained and burning in a northeasterly direction as of 1 p.m., according to the U.S. Forest Service.
No injuries have been reported.
About 200 homes have been evacuated, authorities said. A mandatory evacuation order was issued early Friday for a portion of the La Cresta community in Murrieta west of Grand Avenue, north of Avenida La Cresta and south of Calle De Lobo, authorities said.
Evacuation warnings, which let residents know they could be ordered to leave at any time, were no longer in place as of 2 p.m., according to the U.S. Forest Service.
The public was advised to avoid Grand Avenue due to traffic and emergency vehicles.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District warned residents in parts of Lake Elsinore and the Perris and Temecula valleys closest to the blaze of unhealthy air quality due to smoke and ash wafting in from the fire area.
“Everyone should avoid any vigorous outdoor or indoor exertion; people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children should remain indoors,” SCAQMD said in a press release.
The fire was sparked by a motorcyclist who crashed into a tree, the California Highway Patrol told The Los Angeles Times.
The 18-year-old man was riding alone down a dirt road when he hit a bump and lost control of the Yamaha motorcycle, crashing into a tree, CHP Officer Mike Lassig told the newspaper. The throttle of the motorcycle got stuck and the tank sprang a leak, lighting the tree and surrounding brush on fire, Lassig said.
The rider attempted to put out the flames, then ran two to three miles to grab his cellphone in his truck and called authorities, according to Lassig.
The rider suffered minor scrapes.
A Cal Fire spokeswoman said air tankers and water-dropping helicopters were deployed to attack the flames, which could not be easily reached by ground personnel, who were trekking to the fire via trails and forest roads.
By about 8:30 p.m. Thursday, it had scorched around 350 acres, according to Cal Fire. After daybreak Friday, its size had doubled.
A care and reception center was set up in the Lake Elsinore High School gym at 21800 Canyon Drive in Wildomar for those affected by the fire.
The San Jacinto Animal Campus at 581 S. Grand Ave. in San Jacinto is taking all animals at no cost, authorities said.
–City News Service
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