Fire crews continued to battle a deadly blaze near Hemet as it has burned through 7,091 acres as of Wednesday morning, according to fire officials.
The Fairview fire, which has killed two people and prompted evacuation orders in the area, was 5% contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Evacuation orders were issued for an area from Thomas Mountain Ridge south to Cactus Valley Road to Bautista Canyon Road to a forest boundary. A previous evacuation order was issued for the area south of Stetson Avenue, north of Cactus Valley, west of Fairview Avenue and east of State Street.
The fire was slightly active overnight and Cal Fire decided to establish a unified command with the Hemet Fire Department and the U.S. Forest Service after the blaze outpaced Cal Fire’s ground and aerial resources, said Cal Fire Chief Josh Jansen in a Wednesday news conference.
“There’s still open fire on all sides of the fire, still threatening several communities,” he added.
Two people were found dead inside a vehicle in the 4240 block of Avery Canyon Road in eastern Hemet, according to Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Brandi Swan. The people appeared to be trying to flee the fire. They have not yet been identified because of the condition of their remains, Swan said.
A female family member of the victims was also found “severely burned” outside the vehicle, was transported to a local hospital and is expected to survive, Swan said. Her identity has also not been released.
It’s unclear whether Edison’s equipment played a role in the blaze and what the circuit activity was. Edison reported the incident Monday night to the Public Utilities Commission.
An evacuation center has been set up at Tahquitz High School in Hemet for displaced residents.
All schools within the Hemet Unified School District remain closed Wednesday, according to Shane Reichardt of the Riverside County Emergency Management Department.
Officials urged residents near the fire to be prepared to evacuate.
“We want residents to have a plan and to prepare a ‘go-bag’ should they be asked to evacuate,” Reichardt said.