All evacuation orders and warnings were lifted Friday night a brush fire scorched 2,000 acres and forced hundreds from their homes in southwest Riverside County.
The Tenaja blaze was reported about 3:55 p.m. Wednesday in the area of Clinton Keith and Tenaja roads in the unincorporated community of La Cresta, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
All evacuation orders affecting hundreds of homes were lifted Friday morning and changed to warnings, with officials advising that flare-ups could prompt mandatory evacuations again.
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However, officials indicated steady progress was being made encircling the fire and all evacuation warnings were lifted about 8 p.m.
The fire burned close to homes and generated thick smoke that wafted over neighborhoods, forcing some residents to evacuate.
A thunderstorm moved through the area before the fire, which might have been started by a lightning strike. No official cause has been determined.
- All evacuation orders were lifted at 8 a.m. Friday.
- All Murrieta Valley Unified School District schools
- Romoland School District schools and Santa Rosa Academy
- Menifee Unified School District school are closed Friday
- Lake Elsinore Unified School District
- Perris Elementary School District
- Perris Union High School District
- Springs Charter Schools: Bear River Del Rio and Murrieta student centers
Health officials warned residents about the dangers of smoke and ash from the fire, urging residents to limit outdoor activities because of smoke.
"Ash and smoke can be hard on anyone to breathe, but especially those with lung disease," said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County public health officer, in a news release. "Everyone worries about the flames, but smoke can impact you even if you’re miles away from the fire."
Murrieta Fire and Rescue was also warning residents Friday morning that there were no donation funds set up to help fight the fire, after spotting a fraudulent Facebook post.
"Murrieta Fire & Rescue does not have a volunteer fire department and we do not have an auxiliary. In addition, we are not seeking donations. If you see requests for monetary donations, please report this activity to Murrieta Fire & Rescue or Murrieta Police Department," the post reads.
So far, Southern California has been spared the large wildfires that devastated the state last year, when the largest, most destructive and deadliest fires on record burned in California. Above-average soil moisture, steady winter rains and high humidity are some of the reasons, along with onshore winds that help keep humidity in place.
Without dry brush that acts as fuel, fires can't spread as quickly.
As of Sept. 1, CalFire reported 3,700 wildfires that have burned 28,100 acres across the state since the start of the year. Last year at this time, more than 4,200 fires had burned an astonishing 622,600 acres. The five-year average for the period is 4,196 fires and 269,443 acres.