HEMET, Calif. (CNS)– Full containment of the deadly Fairview fire southeast of Hemet could be achieved on Monday thanks to moisture from the remnants of Tropical Storm Kay, authorities said.
The fire was 45% contained as of Sunday morning after burning 28,307 acres, causing two deaths and destroying 17 buildings.
“Fire activity has been greatly reduced due to the humidity from Tropical Storm Kay. Deep-seated heat is still present in the dense, old-growth bush patches and snag holes. Fine, conspicuous combustibles will not sustain fire or ignition,” the fire department said Saturday night.
Rain on Friday and Saturday allowed authorities to reduce some of the evacuation orders from mandatory to voluntary, but officials warned fire behavior could still be unpredictable, leaving residents who were allowed to return to their homes “strongly encouraged to remain vigilant during this dynamic incident”. ‘
Although authorities reported a sharp drop in fire activity, they also reported finding “creeping and smoldering fire” in the Bautista Canyon and Avery Canyon area.
“The scrub in that area is dense, thick, and old, and the moisture hasn’t reached the ground there,” said Stephen Volmer, fire behavior analyst for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Volmer said resources would be in the area on Sunday to find any smoke or creeping fire and put it out completely before the Santa Ana winds hit in the next few weeks.
As of 4 p.m. Sunday, evacuation warnings were lifted for the area east of Fairview, north of Highway 74, south of the San Jacinto Riverbed and west of Wilson Way. The evacuation warning was also lifted for the area west of Fairview, south of Highway 74, north of Stetson and east of Soboba Street. Highway 74 has been fully reopened, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
The evacuation order was reduced to a warning for the area west of Wilson Way, south of Highway 74, east of Fairview and north of the fire protection area.
Mandatory evacuations for residents south of Cactus Valley Road, east of Sage Road, north of Stanley Road to the eastern boundary of the Cahuilla Mountain Wilderness, north of the southern boundary of the Cahuilla Mountain Wilderness Area, north of Tripps Flats, northwest of the Cottonwood Truck Trail and west from Ruse Ridge to the burn area.
Evacuation centers have been established at Tahquitz High School at 4425 Titan Trail in Hemet, Temecula Valley High School at 31555 Rancho Vista Road, and Temecula Community Center at 30875 Rancho Vista Road.
Large animals were accepted at the Riverside County Animal Shelter at 438 S. State St. in San Jacinto, and smaller pets were accepted at the Small Animal Care Center at 601 S. State St.
All pet ownership fees will be waived under the county’s emergency ordinance, according to Department of Animal Services spokesman John Welsh.
Many roads were also closed in the area, including a complete closure of State Route 74 in the San Bernardino National Forest between Mountain Center and Borco Streets in the Valle Vista area.
The San Bernardino National Forest also issued a forest closure order for the areas affected by the fire.
Officials at the Hemet Unified School District, where schools were closed last week, expected all campuses to reopen on Monday if conditions permit.
The fire was reported on Fairview Avenue and Bautista Road just after 2 p.m. Monday.
Two civilians were killed and one was seriously injured when the fire started. Sheriff’s officials confirmed Wednesday that the two deceased victims were found Monday in a vehicle at block 42400 of Avery Canyon Road in East Hemet, apparently engulfed by the flames as they attempted to leave.
The two victims were not officially identified by authorities, but friends told reporters they were Ian Compton and his autistic daughter Mikayla Porter. Friends said their pets were also killed. Compton’s wife, Tina, suffered severe burns and is in the hospital. A sheriff’s officer said Wednesday the woman, who was found outside the vehicle on Avery Canyon Road, is expected to survive.
The Riverside County Emergency Management Department on Wednesday declared the fire a local emergency, allowing the county to request state and state assistance. The Board of Directors is scheduled to formally approve the proclamation during its Tuesday meeting. Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for the fire zone last week.
As of Sunday, 2,284 firefighters remained assigned to the fire, working under a unified command that includes Cal Fire Riverside, the US Forest Service and the Riverside County Fire Department. The fire still threatened 2,462 buildings. It destroyed 17 and damaged four, officials said.
It also destroyed 13 so-called outbuildings and damaged one.
The cause of the fire was determined. In a document filed with the California Public Utilities Commission, Southern California Edison reported “circuit activity” in the area just before the fire broke out.
A helicopter deployed to fight the blaze crashed at Banning Municipal Airport on Saturday. The pilot and two firefighters suffered moderate injuries and were taken to a trauma center for treatment, authorities said.
Three people were arrested on suspicion of breaking and entering and looting at an evacuation area near the fire. Deputies with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department responded to a report by three people searching a neighborhood in a white Chevrolet Blazer around 1:40 p.m. Saturday and found a broken window of an apartment building at Block 31400 of Cora Lee Lane.
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https://abc7.com/fairview-fire-riverside-county-hemet-wildfire-tropical-storm-kay/12222839/ Riverside County: The Fairview Fire near Hemet was fully contained Monday