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Brush fire breaks out near Temecula; 30 homes ordered evacuated [Updated]

September 19, 2009 |  5:15 pm


A brush fire has broken out in a remote area of southwestern Riverside County about 10 miles east of Temecula. Sheriff’s deputies have ordered about 30 ranch-style homes evacuated.

The blaze began shortly before 4 p.m. near California Highway 79, south of Vail Lake, said Capt. Fernando Herrera of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. He said he saw at least two structures on fire but did not know whether they were homes or outbuildings. The fire was moving east, he added.

Evacuations are in effect along Highway 79 between Anja Avenue and Sage Road. An evacuation center has opened at Great Oak High School at 32555 Deer Hollow Way in Temecula.

[Updated at 6 p.m.: "This has the potential to be a large-scale fire," Herrera said. "It could pose a great structure threat."

At one point, the fire was burning on both sides of Highway 79, which was closed to traffic in the area of the fire. Herrera said the fire was driven by 20-mph gusts and burning moderate to heavy brush atop rolling hills.

By late afternoon, the fire had grown fairly quickly, Hererra said. The fire is burning about five miles east of the Pechanga Indian Reservation.] 

--Rong-Gong Lin II and Louis Sahagun