Southern California Wildfire Grows Extensively
BANNING, Calif. - A thousand firefighters battled a growing wildfire in the inland mountains of Southern California early Thursday, trying to save small communities where some home have been lost and an estimated 1,500 residents were forced to flee.
Flames roiled along foothills of the San Jacinto Mountains in Banning Pass 90 miles east of Los Angeles. The fire moved eastward, pushed by a steady wind from the west, said Julie Hutchinson, spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The fire was estimated at 15 ½ square miles early Thursday, growing from 6,000 acres late Wednesday to 10,000 acres overnight, with zero percent containment.
Two firefighters and a civilian were injured. Hutchinson had no details but said the civilian’s injuries were "significant."
Fire officials estimated 15 structures burned, but could not say how many were homes. TV news helicopters and photos from the scene showed several houses in flames.
They included the Twin Pines home of Dave Clark, whose parents were killed in a house fire in the city of Riverside in April 2012, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported. Prosecutors alleged Clark’s sister Deborah Clark set that fire, and she was awaiting a mental-competency hearing to see if she was competent to stand trial for her parents’ deaths.
A photograph taken by the Desert Sun newspaper showed Clark talking on his cellphone with the home fully engulfed in flames behind him.
"He said he lost everything, he couldn’t talk," brother Jeff Clark told the Press-Enterprise.