California wildfires kill 4 over Labor Day weekend amid record-breaking temperatures
Erin Rode & Celina Tebor - USA TODAY
Four people were killed in California wildfires over Labor Day weekend, officials said, amid record-breaking temperatures expected to drive historic power demands across the state Tuesday.
Over 4,000 firefighters are battling 14 large fires around the state, and 45 new fires erupted on Sunday alone, said Anale Burlew, a deputy chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Two people died in a rapidly-spreading wildfire in Southern California on Monday, Cal Fire officials said, and two others were killed in a Northern California blaze that has ripped through a small town.
Fairview Fire kills 2 near Hemet in Southern California
The Fairview Fire in Southern California grew to almost 4 square miles Tuesday morning, with just 5% containment.
The fire broke out Monday in an unincorporated area near Hemet, about 80 miles southeast of Los Angeles. In less than an hour, it had exploded to 500 acres, according to Cal Fire.
Two people were killed and another injured when winds pushed the fire into a canyon, according to Josh Janssen, the incident commander.
"Those individuals were attempting to flee the area and were overcome by the fire," he said Tuesday morning. It's unknown whether the victims are related or from the same household.
The fire has been moving in an "atypical wind direction," Janssen said.
This fire burned differently than it normally would on a given day," he said. "It burned the complete opposite direction of what it should do."
He warned that predictive models show the wind will reverse 180 degrees, pushing the fire back through what it scorched Monday.
An evacuation order that was initially issued for 1,584 homes was expanded Monday evening. Seven structures have been destroyed, with several others damaged.
Shane Reichardt, public information specialist for the Emergency Management Department, said all schools within the Hemet Unified School District were closed Tuesday.
The city of Hemet is also experiencing an "unrelated weather-caused power outage," Reichardt said Tuesday. Triple-digit temperatures across California are straining the electrical grid and making rotating outages increasingly likely, authorities said.
Mill, Mountain fires rage in Northern California
wo people died after the Mill Fire ripped through the town of Weed in Northern California, Siskiyou County Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue said Sunday.
“There’s no easy way of putting it,” LaRue said.
The bodies of the two women, 66 and 73, were found Friday, the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office announced Monday.
The Mill Fire, just south of the Oregon border, measured over 6 square miles and was 55% contained as of Tuesday morning, according to Cal Fire.
Three other people were injured fire, Cal Fire said, but no other details were available.
The nearby Mountain Fire grew to over 18 square miles and was 20% contained Tuesday morning, according to Cal Fire. Winds were threatening to renew its eastward spread in steep terrain, fire officials said.
Radford Fire breaks out in San Bernardino National Forest
Another fire broke out in the San Bernardino National Forest on Monday afternoon near Big Bear. The Radford Fire covered 50 acres late Monday afternoon , according to San Bernardino National Forest.
By Tuesday morning, the fire had grown to 450 acres with 0% containment, officials said.
An evacuation order was issued according to the Yucaipa Police Department. A portion of a state highway, State Route 38, was closed in both directions, according to CalTrans, and U.S. Forest Service lands in the area were also closed.