A wildfire fueled by gusty Santa Ana winds raced across rural land southeast of Los Angeles and has forced 4,000 people from their homes. The Highland Fire started not long after noon Monday in dry brushy hills near the community of Aguanga in Riverside County, about 60 miles south of Palm Springs. The Associated Press reported today that the fire has grown to 3½ square miles, or 2200 acres with zero containment.
Cal Fire reported that resources included 5 airtankers and 5 helicopters, along with 52 engine companies and 6 ground crews.
NBC Los Angeles reported that evacuation orders are in effect for thousands after the fire doubled in size overnight.
The brush fire started Monday in the Aguanga area of Riverside County, about 60 miles southwest of Palm Springs.
Cal Fire PIO map:
At least 1,300 homes and 4,000 residents were under evacuation orders, which were still in effect this morning. The fire burned across a sparsely populated area that includes horse ranches and a large mobile home site; Cal Fire said this morning that only 15 or so homes were threatened.
Southern California Edison was reportedly looking into cutting power to nearly 150,000 customers in six counties — to prevent new starts from downed trees or wind-damaged electrical equipment — but fewer than 300 customers thus far were affected by power shutoffs.
The NWS issued a wind advisory for the region through Tuesday night, predicting winds of 15 to 25 mph and gusts up to 50 mph, particularly in the foothills and adjacent valleys.
These are the first major Santa Anas of the season; the strong, hot, dry, dust-bearing winds typically blow down to the coastal areas from inland desert regions in the fall. Santa Ana winds have fueled some of the largest and most devastating wildfires in California history.