Wildfire Burns Homes; Headed Toward Palm Springs Area - New York News

Wildfire Burns Homes; Headed Toward Palm Springs Area

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Update: Fire is moving into the Andrea Canyon area of South Palm Springs. Palm Springs Fire Department stresses there is no immediate danger to Palm Springs.

(AP) -- A fast-moving wildfire in the mountains west of Palm Springs nearly doubled in size Tuesday, prompting the evacuation of about 50 homes.

The fire grew to about 8,000 acres — or 12.5 square miles — in a matter of hours as it burned in the San Jacinto Mountains.

A few buildings were damaged or destroyed, but it was not immediately clear whether they were homes or other structures, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Lee Beyer said.

The fire was burning between Palm Springs and Hemet near a rural Riverside County community known as Mountain Center. It was moving east toward the desert and away from small communities of homes, summer cabins and ranches. A change in the wind could easily sweep it back toward the homes, authorities said.

"It's a rapidly changing animal," Beyer said.

About 24 homes were evacuated after the fire started Monday afternoon, along with a dog and cat sanctuary. An additional 24 homes were evacuated Tuesday.

As temperatures soared to 110 in Indio, the John H. Furbee Aquatics Center swimming pool was closed Tuesday because of falling ash from the fire, pending further notification.

The fire raged in thick brush and trees at an elevation of 5,000 to 7,500 feet, sending flames 100 feet high. Beyer said some of the area had not burned in 35 years and that the vegetation was dried out.

"We only had 40 to 50 percent of normal precipitation" over the winter and no rain at all since early April, he said.

About 650 firefighters and 18 aircraft were assigned to the blaze.

Get the latest from the fire the US Forest Service on this fire here.

EVACUATION CENTERS:

Hemet High School, 41701 E. Stetson Ave, Hemet

Hamilton High School, 57430 Mitchell Road, Anza - Can accept small animals

Large and Small Animals can be taken to Lake Hemet Campground in Garner Valley

Small animals can be brought to the SanJacinto Animal Shelter, 581 S. Grand Ave, San Jacinto CA

TRAIL CLOSURES:

The Pacific Crest Trail is closed from Highway 74 north to Saddle Junction. All of the trails connection to the Pacific Crest Trail are closed as well, including South Ridge Trail, Carumba Trail, Spitler Peak Trail, Fobes Trail, and Cedar Springs.

Individuals or groups with overnight or advance day-use permits into the San Jacinto Wilderness is advised to call the San Jacinto Ranger Station at 909-382-2921.

Road Closures and Evacuations:

Highway 243 is closed between Saunders Meadow Road and the junction of Highway 74. There are mandatory Evacuations for the Living Free Animal Sanctuary, The Fleming Ranch, Bonita Vista Community (20 homes), and the Zen Mountain Center.

Mandatory evacuation orders are in place for Andreas Canyon Club, 24 homes south of Palm Canyon Drive.

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