A brush fire that erupted Friday morning scorched about 600 acres in the unincorporated Mountain Center area east of Hemet, prompting officials to order an evacuation and establish an evacuation center.
Firefighters responded about 1:15 a.m. to the 28000 block of Bonita Vista Road and found flames burning in heavy vegetation and pine trees, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
Shortly after 6 a.m., officials said the fire was about 5% contained.
About 3:40 a.m., the department announced the evacuation order for residents of Mountain Center. Residents were asked to use Highway 243 toward Banning and Highway 74 toward Palm Desert to leave the area.
According to the California Highway Patrol, the following road closures were in effect in the area:
— Highway 74 at Morris Ranch Rd.;
— Highway 74 at Strawberry Creek;
— Highway 243 at Saunders Meadow.
An evacuation center was set up at the Banning Community Center, 789 N. San Gorgonio Ave.
At least 200 firefighters were assigned to battle the flames, the department said.
It was unclear what sparked the fire.
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