Officials prepare to evacuate 22,000 people from Hemet wildfire’s path, raising dire warnings of high winds and intense firefighting.
— Firefighters have raised the serious threat level for the Hemet Valley wildfire in Southern California to its highest level amid the ongoing threat from high winds and intense firefighting conditions on Thursday.
The threat level from the Hemet wildfire is now at its highest, which means the Hemet Valley wildfires have an increased level of concern for residents and firefighters.
The Hemet Valley wildfire has burned 1,500 acres and prompted more than 200 airtanker aircraft from 10 agencies to respond. The National Park Service airtanker fleet is also assisting in the fight.
The evacuation threats for residents near the fire have increased to their highest level, and the fire is expected to continue to burn through the weekend.
As of Thursday afternoon, the fire had consumed 985 acres and was 3 percent contained.
The U.S. Forest Service put the number of people evacuated on the fire at about 7,700. Officials on Thursday said nearly 2,000 homes had been lost in the fire.
The Hemet fire is currently burning directly east of the city of Hemet in Southern California, and it’s expected to continue to burn throughout the weekend.
“We’re in an uphill fight,” David Kennedy, the Forest Service’s Hemet fire operations team leader, told reporters on Thursday, according to ABC News affiliate KFMB.
The fire is now one of two in Southern California that have made it into the week. The Santa Ana winds, which bring strong winds from the north, have caused more than 12,000 acres to burn.
“It’s difficult to do any type of precision mapping on those blazes,” Kennedy said. “The vegetation changes rapidly in these areas. It’s very hard to quantify the change in vegetation with accuracy.”
Wildfires like the two in Southern California often start along roads or in populated areas, but then spread