Evacuations begun as wildfire grows in the north and west of Banning, continue to rage out of control. The 29 mph wind-fanned fires scorched parts of Wine Country north of San Francisco, Wednesday evening. The fast-moving fire is dangerously close to subdivisions through the undeveloped foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains.
A fire official claimed that the temperatures in the area Wednesday were relatively humid at 12% in the low 80s. About 550 firefighters, helicopters, air tankers, and bulldozers from all over Southern California tried to douse the 1,700 acres blaze that burned one home as is threatening about 800 more in Riverside County.
There are no exact numbers of people who have been evacuated, but authorities claimed that 200-unit mobile home park in Cherry Valley had previously been cleared. Residents in Banning, about 25 miles west of Palm Springs were already told to leave their homes.
As of 6 p.m., the fire was burning over the Highland Springs area with 300 mobile homes, and the nearby is being threatened. Banning Beach homes in the northwest of the city is also threatened. The Highland Home Community, High Springs Country Club and the Bench, all have been evacuated.
Officials said that an evacuation center had been opened at the Banning Community Services Center. The National Weather Service in San Diego signals critical fire danger warning to be, in effect, until Friday evening as wind speeds between 15 – 25 mph with gusts up to 55 mph is called for by forecasters. In the nearly empty mobile park, the flames could not be seen because of the thick smoke.
Evacuation center at Banning Community Center, 789 N. San Gorgonio Ave., and at Praise Tabernacle Church, 1525 W. Nicolet St has already been opened. An animal evacuation center has also been set up at 390 Oak Valley Parkway, Noble Creek Park.
Less than half of the Yellow north of Calistoga in Sonoma County was contained after burning 125 acres while 75% of the Silverado Fire near Yountville, in Napa County contained. Officials said that in Butte County, since the Panther Fire sparked Wednesday morning, it has burned 274 acres but is now fully contained.
Fire officials are hoping to make headway in the blaze before Santa Ana winds up to 75 mph and warmer weather temperatures in the 90s could hit the region by Thursday afternoon.
Written By: Janet Grace Ortigas