A winter storm stronger than first predicted is expected to roll into the Southland. Mandatory evacuation order were issued by authorities in some areas of the region. Photo from Pixabay.
Water. Photo from Pixabay.

Widely dispersed storm cells and flash floods triggered by the remnants of a hurricane off of the California coast could aid fire crews Friday in broadening containment lines around the deadly Fairview Fire burning southeast of Hemet.

As of 10:30 a.m., National Weather Service radar indicated green, yellow and red bands approaching the Hemet/San Jacinto Valley and portions of the San Bernardino National Forest, where the blaze is concentrated.

Shortly before 11 a.m., all Cal Fire aircraft were pulled out of the firefighting operation and grounded at Hemet-Ryan and San Bernardino International airports, according to reports from the scene.

The NWS issued Flood Watch and High Wind Warning for Riverside County, with up to 7 inches of precipitation possible in areas, raising the likelihood of flash floods, mud and debris flows. The inclement weather was due to Tropical Storm Kay, which had been a hurricane before hitting the Baja peninsula in Mexico.

“Based on forecasts, this appears to be a dangerous storm,” county Emergency Management Department Director Bruce Barton said, urging motorists to take precautions and not attempt to cross flooded roads.

Winds turned sharply eastward as the storm cells crowded into the southern half of the county. The Weather Service predicted gusts of 55 mph in the valleys and 75 mph in the mountains and deserts.

Sandbags are available at fire stations and hardware stores in Riverside County.

With rainfall anticipated throughout the day Friday, chances of containing the fire by early next week, which Cal Fire said was the objective, seemed greater. It was unknown whether some of the evacuation orders might be lifted by the start of the weekend.

By 7 a.m. Friday, officials said the fire had grown to 27,463 acres, but remains 5% contained — a figure that hasn’t changed since Monday.

At 1 p.m. Thursday, Cal Fire announced that the area east of De Portola Road, west of Sage Road, north of East Benton Road and south of Diamond Valley Road was under a mandatory evacuation.

Around the same time, a new evacuation warning was posted south of Rawson Road, east of Washington Street and Anza Road, west of Highway 74 and north of Highways 79 and 371, where residents were advised to be prepared to leave should conditions change for the worse.

Mandatory evacuations remained in place for residents south of Cactus Valley Road, north of Minto Way, north of Red Mountain Road, west of the U.S. Forest Service boundary and east of Sage, west of Wilson Way, south of Highway 74, east of Fairview Avenue, north of Stetson Avenue, south of Minto, south of Red Mountain, west and north of Stanley Road and east of Sage.

Other evacuation warnings were active for those living west of Reed Valley Road and west of the USFS boundary, south of Stanley and north of Wilson Valley Road.

Highway 74 in the San Bernardino National Forest was fully closed between Mountain Center and Borco Street, which is in Valle Vista.

The Fairview Fire was reported shortly after 2 p.m. Monday on Fairview Avenue and Bautista Road.

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

The Riverside County Emergency Management Department declared a local emergency Wednesday due to the fire, enabling 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 earlier this week.

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 leave.

The two victims have not been formally identified by authorities, but friends identified them to reporters as Ian Compton and his autistic daughter Mikayla Porter. Friends said their family pets were also killed. Compton’s wife, Tina, was severely burned and remains hospitalized.

A sheriff’s official said Wednesday the woman, who was found outside the vehicle on Avery Canyon Road, is expected to survive.

At least seven buildings have been destroyed and several more were damaged. Friends said the Comptons’ home was among the structures destroyed.

Evacuation centers were set up at Tahquitz High School in Hemet, Temecula Valley High School and the Temecula Community Center.

The Department of Animal Services said the San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus was accepting large and small domestic creatures for safekeeping. Livestock were being cared for at the Perris Fairgrounds.

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

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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