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Riverside County fire burns 1,800 acres and home

August 14, 2012 |  7:02 pm


A fast-moving wildfire stoked by triple-digit temperatures burned more than 1,800 acres Tuesday in the foothills of the San Jacinto Mountains, creeping perilously close to a tinder-dry area of the San Bernardino National Forest, officials said.

At least three structures, including one home, have been destroyed by the blaze, which spread rapidly through the dry brush and grasslands in a sparsely populated area southeast of Hemet.

The flames have crept within a mile of the forest near the community of Mountain Center, where drought has heightened fire danger. “Of course we’re concerned,’’ said John Miller, spokesman for the San Bernardino National Forest. “This year our big concern is the fact that rainfall, and that includes snow, for our forest was somewhere between 50 to 70 percent of normal.’’

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in the sparsely populated rocky foothills, and nine homes have been evacuated, according to Jody Hagemann of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The fire is burning out of control, spreading at a moderate rate of speed, in hilly chaparral. It was about 5% contained, fire officials said.

The wildfire was reported just before 1 p.m. in the community of Aguanga. More than 210 firefighters were working to extinguish the blaze, and six water-carrying helicopters and six water-tender aircraft and a firefighting DC-10 were assisting with the effort, CALFire officials said.

The Inland Empire chapter of the American Red Cross opening a evacuation shelter in Temecula, at the community Recreation Center at 30875 Rancho Vista Road. There have been no reports of injuries.

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-- Phil Willon

Photo: A home is engulfed by flames. Credit: KTLA-TV Channel 5