Covering the fight against California's wildfires

Gorgonio Fire Shuts Part of Highway 243

The vegetation fire tripled in size in a matter of hours on Saturday afternoon

By Christina Cocca
|  Sunday, May 5, 2013  |  Updated 10:12 AM PDT
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28,000-Acre Springs Fire Is 30 Percent Contained

A viewer sent NBC4 this photo of the Banning brush fire on Saturday, May 4, 2013.

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Naval Base at Point Mugu Feels the Heat

The Springs fire scorched the fringe of a Naval Base Ventura County and damaged some facilities. But it was the smoke that caused the most trouble. Evacuations were lifted, but the area was open only to residents Friday. Gordon Tokumatsu reports from Point Mugu for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on May 3, 2013.

Proud Homeowner Faced Springs Fire

The owner of an unusual round house in the Santa Monica Mountains near Malibu appeared to face the flames of the Springs Fire from his rooftop Friday. Rick Mecagni said his home was "much more than a house," and was built with wildfire in mind. Kim Baldonado reports from Camarillo for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on May 3, 2013.
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A vegetation fire that broke out in Banning on Saturday forced authorities to close an 8-mile stretch of Highway 243 and the closure was expected to last overnight into Sunday.

At least 412 firefighters, two helicopters and seven air tankers were battling the blaze in steep, rugged terrain, said Melody Hendrickson, a Riverside County Fire Department spokeswoman.

The Gorgonio Fire was reported at 11:43 a.m. and charred 650 acres, officials said.

State Route 243, which connects the Inland Empire cities of Banning and Idyllwild, was closed from Poppet Flats Road to South San Gorgonio Avenue and Wesley Street.

Winds were gusting at about 20 mph.

Officials were not sure of the origin of the blaze, which burned vegetation about 9 miles north of the 3,000-acre Summit Fire, which was 85 percent contained by Saturday morning.

The Gorgonio Fire blazed over the same ground as the 41,000-acre Esperanza wildfire on Oct. 26, 2006, Riverside Fire Department Battalion Chief Mike Smith said.

Serial arsonist Raymond Lee Oyler was sentenced to death in 2009 for starting the Esperanza wildfire, which killed five firefighters.

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