USA — Southern California fire officials say a wildfire that broke out just after noon is raging through 2,956 acres of Riverside County near Banning, fueled by strong winds, prompting evacuations. At least one home was burned in the fire, which has been named the Summit Fire.
The fire is 35 percent contained, according to the Riverside County Fire Department, but there was no estimation of when it would be fully contained early Wednesday evening. One firefighter received minor injuries, according to the department.
The fire is raging westward through largely undeveloped foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains, but it is dangerously close to subdivisions to the south.
County fire spokeswoman Jody Hagemann says at least 425 firefighters are working to gain control of the fast-moving fire that broke out Wednesday and has destroyed one structure.
Evacuations and street closures are in effect in several neighborhoods to the south of the fire in Banning. The Highland Springs Mobile Home Park has also been evacuated, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
Air quality officials issued a smoke advisory Wednesday for Banning and the surrounding area due to smoke from teh Summit Fire.
If winds from the east continue driving flames westward, the fire could affect communities in Cherry Valley and Beaumont.
Much of Southern California is under red flag warnings for fire danger due to winds, low humidity and heat.
Banning is located about 90 miles east of Los Angeles, just south of the San Bernardino Mountains.
Forecasters said surface high pressure over the Great Basin would send Santa Ana winds through and below passes and canyons and near coastal foothills late Wednesday night through Thursday afternoon. The gusty northeast winds are often linked to the spread of Southern California’s worst wildfires.
Officials said California has experienced unusually high fire activity so far this year. The fire danger has been heightened by a lack of precipitation this winter that has left brush dry.
“Statewide our fire activity is up over 60 percent of normal,” Berlant said. “It has everything to do with the fact that conditions are so dry, then you add wind, making the perfect conditions for a fire.”