A wildfire in Southern California, known as the Highland Fire, experienced rapid growth due to the Santa Ana winds, leading to the evacuation of over 4,000 Riverside County residents. By Tuesday, the fire had consumed 2,487 acres, nearly doubling its reach from the previous night.
The Santa Ana winds, which arise from the desert and flow towards the ocean, are a recurring phenomenon in the region. These dry winds significantly escalate fire risks in Southern California.
As of Tuesday evening, the fire was only 10% contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire). Efforts to combat the fire included ground crews and aerial support deploying fuchsia-colored retardants.
Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for approximately 1,220 homes, affecting 4,270 residents. Additionally, 1,136 homes, housing around 3,976 residents, received evacuation warnings, shared Cal Fire spokesperson Thomas Shoots.
Evacuation centers were set up for both residents and their pets. Some individuals from an RV resort, which the fire later encroached upon, moved their vehicles to a nearby Walmart parking lot in Temecula, situated 15 miles away.
Barb Bommarito shared her hasty retreat from the scene: “I just grabbed dog food and rushed into my van.” Another resident, 85-year-old Robert Duke, recalled the mandatory evacuation’s urgency, highlighted by law enforcement’s flashing lights and loud announcements.
The fire’s origin remains under investigation. Cal Fire emphasized the ongoing nature of the threat, pointing to the closure of various roads and continuing evacuation directives.
As Reported by CNBC, Interestingly, 2023 has been relatively calm for Southern California in terms of wildfires, likely due to the unusually high rainfall, which even saw the first tropical storm to hit densely populated regions of the state in over eight decades.