A fast-moving wildfire, named the Highland Fire, ignited in a rural area southeast of Los Angeles, Southern California, leading to the evacuation of thousands of residents. Here’s what we know about the situation:
The fire was first reported at around 12:45 p.m. on a dry, windy day in the Aguanga area of Riverside County. The blaze quickly spread across more than 2,200 acres of land, and as of Tuesday morning, it remained uncontained.
In response to the wildfire, authorities ordered evacuations for approximately 1,300 homes, affecting about 4,000 residents. The fire department confirmed that three buildings had been destroyed, and six others were damaged, though it was unclear if these structures were homes. Fortunately, no injuries have been reported.
Over 300 firefighters were dispatched to the scene to battle the flames.
The Highland Fire was fueled by Santa Ana winds, which were blowing at speeds of 20 to 25 miles per hour. These strong winds carried the fire and embers through dry grass and brush that had been further dried out due to recent winds and low humidity. Although the area is not densely populated, it does contain horse ranches and a large mobile home site.
The Santa Ana winds are notorious for being dry and dust-laden, originating in inland desert regions and often sweeping across the Pacific Coast. They have historically played a significant role in the ignition and spread of massive fires in California.
The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory for several areas near and around San Bernardino and Riverside County, which remained in effect until 8 p.m. PDT on Tuesday. The advisory warned of winds at speeds of 15 to 25 mph, with gusts of up to 50 mph. The foothills and adjacent valleys were expected to experience the strongest winds.
Residents in these areas were advised to secure outdoor objects and exercise caution when driving due to the challenging wind conditions. The wildfire serves as a reminder of the ongoing threat of wildfires in California, especially during periods of high winds and dry conditions.