Firefighters continue to work around the clock in the middle of a grueling heat wave to put out a fast-moving wildfire in Hemet.
The Fairview Fire first sparked just after 3:30 p.m. on Monday, and in less than 24 hours has killed at least two people and burned through at least 4,500 acres. As of Tuesday afternoon fire crews have contained 5% of the fire.
During a press conference early on Tuesday, fire officials said the blaze could stretch to up to 7,000 acres, though they are making efforts to mitigate the wildfire at a much smaller level.
Late on Tuesday morning, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state secured a Fire Management Assistance Grant to help ensure resources are available to fight the fire.
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The cause of the fire is still unknown.
Deaths and Damage
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At least two people have died as the result of the Fairview Fire, and a third was injured.
According to fire officials, the two people who died appeared to be attempting to leave the area when they were overtaken by the fire as it moved rapidly through Avery Canyon.
It is not yet known if the two people were related or from the same household. Their identities are not yet known.
No other injuries have yet been reported, according to fire officials.
At least seven structures have been destroyed, and a number of other structures have been damaged. More information about those damaged and destroyed building is expected later Tuesday.
A boil water advisory was issued Tuesday morning by the Eastern Municipal Water District, for "residents of fire affected areas in east Hemet."
Approximately 50 homes in the area including all of Polly Butte Road and the area east of 41477 Gibbel Road should "only use boiled tap water or bottled water for drinking and cooking purposes as a safety precaution to avoid stomach or intestinal illness," until further notice.
The Riverside Fire Department along with CAL Fire have issued an evacuation order in these areas, as of 6 a.m. Tuesday:
- South of Stetson Road
- North of Cactus Valley Road
- West of Bautista Canyon Road
- East of State Street
Anyone in those areas must evacuate their homes.
With the rapidly changing nature of the fire, officials asked those in evacuation warning areas to be prepared to leave quickly if the warning changes to an order.
An evacuation center has been set up at Tahquitz High School in Hemet, located at 2245 Titan Trail.
Evacuees meeting at Tahquitz High School can bring their small animals with them. Animal services will assist them with their small animals.
All schools in the Hemet Unified School District are closed on Tuesday due to the wildfire. The school district will advice students and families with updates to the school closure.
Newsom announced on Tuesday morning that California has obtained a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to "help ensure the availability of vital resources to suppress the Fairview Fire."
The grant, provided through the President’s Disaster Relief Fund, allows local governments to apply for up to 75% reimbursement for the cost of fighting fires.
The Fairview Fire was first reported around 3:37 p.m. Monday, as a brush fire on Fairview Ave. and Bautista Road.
Wind travelling in unexpected directions for the time of year caused the fire to spread rapidly down Avery Canyon.
California's ongoing drought has also contributed to the fast spread of the wildfire, with dry vegetation throughout the region providing easy fuel for the wildfire, fire officials said during a press conference early Tuesday morning.
A brutal, week-long heat wave in Southern California has not helped the dry conditions.
Fuel moisture levels are well below historic averages in parts of Southern California, meaning vegetation is drying out more quickly this year. Dry vegetation is one significant factor in the spread of wildfires.
The state came out of one of its driest late winters on record, leaving hillsides covered in dry brush.
California continues to face longer wildfire seasons as a direct result of climate change, according to CAL FIRE.