Raging Wildfire Kills Two People, Threatens 1,500 Homes

David Swanson/REUTERS

Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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Two people have died and more than 2,000 acres have burned in the Fairview Fire in Hemet, California over the weekend.

Riverside County Fire Department Cpt. Richard Cordova confirmed the deaths of two residents in a press briefing, adding that one other individual was transported to the hospital with serious burns to their arms, back, and face. The fire razed seven structures to the ground and a damaged a number of others, according to the Cal Fire Facebook page.

In an early morning press briefing by Cal Fire and Riverside County Fire Department, a department spokesperson announced that the local school district would be closed. Additionally, an evacuation center was set up in Hemet for the more than 1,500 residents told to leave the area.

The fire burned in the “complete opposite direction” between Sunday and Monday, but the wind is expected to return to normal so a perimeter can be set up by the fire. It is currently 5% contained as of Monday morning, according to the briefing. (RELATED: Dallas-Fort Worth Suffers Historic Rain, Flooding As Hundreds Call Police For Help)

A spokesperson said unreasonably dry conditions in California have led to a “critical rate of spread” that overwhelmed the local community. The extreme heat in the burn zone has halted any major investigation into the cause of the fire, another spokesperson noted in the briefing.