partlycloudy
Sunday May 1st, 2016 11:57AM

Southern California wildfire grows extensively

By The Associated Press
BEAUMONT, Calif. (AP) -- A growing wildfire chewed through a rugged Southern California mountain range on Thursday, damaging buildings, threatening as many as 600 homes and forcing some 1,500 people to flee.

A thousand firefighters, 13 helicopters and six air tankers battled the flames as they pushed eastward along the San Jacinto Mountains 90 miles east of Los Angeles, said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The fire was estimated at 15 1/2 square miles early Thursday, growing roughly 6 square miles overnight, with 10 percent containment. "Unfortunately the size of this fire continues to take away any progress that we're making," he said.

Fire officials estimated 15 structures burned, but could not say how many of them were houses. A civilian with what was described as body burns was flown to a hospital, he said. Four firefighters suffered unspecified injuries.

Residents told of fast-moving flames that left little time to get out after the fire erupted at midafternoon Wednesday.

Lili Arroyo, 83, said she was rushing to pack belongings when firefighters arrived at her home, which was rebuilt after being destroyed in a 2006 wildfire. She left with only her pet cockatiel, Tootsie, in its cage and a bag of important papers.

"The smoke was so bad you couldn't see," she said. "There were embers and ash coming down all over the sky. The smoke was really thick. I was starting not to be able to breathe."

Evacuation orders covered the an RV resort called the Silent Valley Club, the rural communities of Poppet Flats, Twin Pines, Edna Valley and Vista Grande, portions of the city of Cabazon along Interstate 10 and a camping area known as Black Mountain.

A veteran of many evacuations, Dana Wright, 43, wiped away a tear as she entered a shelter at a Beaumont school and went with her family to watch TV news. She had no idea whether her Poppet Flats home of 11 years had survived. Friends said a nearby home had not.

"This is the closest I've ever heard the fire being near our home," she said.

She and her husband hoped to find a way back up into the mountains. "I just want to look to see if we have a house," she said.

Most of Southern California's severe wildfires are associated with Santa Ana winds caused by high pressure over the West that sends a clockwise flow of air rushing down into the region.

This week's fire, however, was being fanned by a counter-clockwise flow around a low pressure area over northwest California.

Berlant said there was concern that weather conditions could change Thursday and send the flames in a new direction.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who had planned a meeting Thursday with state and federal fire officials on the California fire season, planned to tour the wildfire area later in the day.

It was the second major wildfire in the San Jacinto Mountains this summer. A blaze that erupted in mid-July spread over 43 square miles on peaks above Palm Springs, burned seven homes and forced 6,000 people out of Idyllwild and neighboring towns.

The latest fire also burned in the footprint of the notorious Esperanza Fire, a 2006, wind-driven inferno that overran a U.S. Forest Service engine crew. All five crew members died. A man was convicted of setting the fire and sentenced to death.
© Copyright 2016 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 2 years ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 2 years ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 2 years ago )
U.S. News
Ethics laws set to take effect Jan. 1 in Georgia
After dominating much of the legislative session, a set of major ethics reforms is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
7:04PM ( 2 years ago )
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 2 years ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 2 years ago )
Local/State News
The Latest: Buffett says real estate less attractive
Warren Buffett says real estate appears to be a less attractive investment than it used to be, but he doesn't see a nationwide bubble in prices
4:45PM ( 19 hours ago )
Obama boosts Islamic State fight, asks Europe to do the same
Evoking history and appealing for solidarity, President Barack Obama on Monday cast his decision to send 250 more troops to Syria as a bid to keep up "momentum" in the campaign to dislodge Islamic State extremists. He pressed European allies to match the U.S. with new contributions of their own.
By The Associated Press
11:02PM ( 5 days ago )
Sept. 11 families upset by White House effort to derail bill
Families of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks say they are "greatly distressed" that the Obama administration is working to derail legislation they back.
7:34PM ( 1 week ago )
Obama claims progress on Islamic State amid worrying signs
Obama claims progress in U.S.-led fight against Islamic State, but political turmoil in Iraq and renewed violence in Syria threatens hard-fought gains
6:56PM ( 2 weeks ago )
Atlanta Hawks player sues New York City over arrest
Atlanta Hawks player Thabo Sefolosha filed a federal lawsuit against New York City on Wednesday, alleging he was unjustly arrested outside of a trendy nightclub last year during a fracas that left him with a broken leg and ended his NBA season.
By The Associated Press
8:38PM ( 3 weeks ago )