Southern California firefighters battle 3 wildfires amid hot, dry weather
Jul 14, 2023, 7:28 PM | Updated: Jul 15, 2023, 2:48 pm
(Terry Pierson/The Orange County Register via AP)
MORENO VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters were battling three separate brush fires in blistering heat and low humidity in sparsely populated, hilly areas southeast of Los Angeles.
Nearly 1,000 homes were under evacuation orders, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or property loss, according to officials from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire.
The fires were all within 40 miles (65 kilometers) of each other in Riverside County, where temperatures in some areas spiked into the triple digits.
“Heat is definitely a concern out there,” said April Newman of the Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department, adding that the blazes were burning through dense, dry brush in rugged terrain.
Two of the fires had stopped spreading. The third, though, grew to about 7 square miles (18 square kilometers) by Saturday morning, Cal Fire said in a social media post.
Hundreds of firefighters were dispatched, along with firefighting helicopters and airplanes.
California is bracing for its hottest weather of the year so far this weekend, and Riverside County is among areas under an excessive heat warning.
Already blistering temperatures are forecast to go even higher for Nevada, Arizona and California, soaring in some desert areas above 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48.8 degrees Celsius) during the day and remaining in the 90s (above 32.2 Celsius) overnight.
California leaders warned earlier in the week about the fire danger.
“As we get deeper into the summer and vegetation that grew up during the wet spring dries out, we are seeing an uptick in wildfire activity,” California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said at a Wednesday news briefing.
The causes of all three fires are under investigation, Cal Fire said.