A fast-moving brush fire erupted just east of Hemet Monday, killing two people, destroying several structures and prompting evacuation orders as firefighters battled the blaze in triple-digit heat.
The Fairview Fire was reported at a little after 2 p.m. on Fairview Ave. and Bautista Road, and had burned 2,000 acres by 10 p.m., according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
At 7:50 p.m., the department announced that the fire resulted in two civilian fatalities and one civilian injury. Officials added that seven buildings were destroyed and several more were damaged.
Containment of the fire was at 5%.
Evacuations were ordered for an area south of Stetson, north of Cactus Valley Road, west of Fairview Avenue and east of State Street. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department was going door to door to enforce the evacuation order, Cal Fire Captain Richard Cordova said.
He estimated that some 1,500 homes were affected by the evacuation order.
An evacuation warning was issued for Cactus Valley in an area north of Cactus Valley Road and east of Stetson, where residents were urged to prepare to leave at a moment’s notice.
An evacuation center was set up at Tahquitz High School at 4425 Titan Trail in Hemet. Riverside County officials said evacuees could also bring their small animals to the center, where personnel would assist with evacuated pets.
Cordova said the fire was already well underway when firefighters first arrived on the scene amid strong east winds. Temperatures were over 100 degrees in the fire area with relative humidity of 13% and east winds gusting at 15 to 25 mph at the time of ignition, according to the National Weather Service.
Cal Fire reported at 6:40 p.m. that flames were approaching about 10 houses in the area of Newport Road east of State Street, where additional resources were requested.
Smoke from the fire could be seen as far as the Orange County coast.