4,700-acre forest fire destroys at least 5 homes near Idyllwild

IDYLLWILD, Calif. — A forest fire in the Idyllwild area quickly grew to nearly 5,000 acres amid scorching temperatures on Wednesday, burning homes and threatening hundreds more, KTLA reported.

The Cranston Fire erupted around noon off Highway 74 between Hemet and Mountain Center, in the San Jacinto Mountains, the San Bernardino National Forest Service tweeted. Idyllwild is about 110 miles north of San Diego in Riverside County.

It grew to 200 acres within 40 minutes of breaking out, then quadrupled in size just before 2 p.m., officials said.

Man arrested on suspicion of setting 4,700-acre brush fire near Idyllwild

By 8:45 p.m., the fire had grown to 4,700 acres, according to the San Bernardino National Forest. It reached 5 percent containment late Wednesday night with roughly 700 personnel involved in the response, the agency tweeted.

Videos from the scene show multiple homes in flames, and forest officials said at least five residences have been destroyed. According to county officials, the blaze threatened at least 600 structures, with at least 110 homes evacuated.

Evacuation orders, smoke advisory issued

The flames seemed to be steadily making headway toward buildings in some sparsely populated areas, Sky5 footage showed.

Evacuations were mandatory in Idyllwild, Apple Canyon, Mountain Center, Lake Hemet and Hurkey Creek, National Forest officials said in a tweet around 7:15 p.m.

Around 4:45 p.m., residents in Pine Cove and Fern Valley were also told to leave immediately.

The fire jumped Highway 243 near the Idyllwild Grinding facility as the out-of-control inferno continued to explode in size against firefighter efforts to contain the blaze.

As the flames quickly spread toward Idyllwild, officials urged anyone in southwest part of the community to leave the area immediately.

An evacuation center has been set up at Banning High School, locating at 100 W. Westward Ave. in Banning, according to the Forest Service.

Small animals are welcome at Banning High School; large animals can be taken to San Jacinto High School, which is at 500 Idyllwild Dr. in San Jacinto.

Animals of both sizes are being accepted at the San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus at 581 S. Grand Ave. as well as Dysart Equestrian Park, at 2101 W. Victory Ave. in Banning. Small animals left at Dysart would be transferred to San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus, officials said.

Residents who need assistance moving large animals can contact 951-358-7329.

A call center has been opened for general public information on the fire. The number is 909-383-5688.

The flames devoured any trees and brush in its path, sending tall columns of thick smoke high up into the air that were visible miles away. At one point, Sky5 video showed the flames burning perilously close to several buildings near the top of a ridge.

In addition to the evacuations, Highway 74 has been closed between Mountain Center and Cranston Fire Station, which is near Hemet.

Highway 243 has also been shut down between Pine Cove and Mountain Center.

Meanwhile, a smoke advisory was issued mid-afternoon in several parts of Riverside County because of the Cranston Fire. The advisory is in effect for the Perris Valley, Anza, Hemet and the San Jacinto Valley, Banning Pass and the Coachella Valley because of the Cranston Fire.

A number of agencies are responding to the fire via ground and air; the San Bernardino National Forest is in unified command with Cal Fire Riverside and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.