Brush Fire in Aguanga Scorches 2,200 Acres, Threatens Homes; 0% Contained

Photo via Riverside Fire Department X Feed

A brush fire that erupted in Aguanga was 0% contained Tuesday after scorching an estimated 2,200 acres, crossing a highway, and damaging at least one property.

The Highland Fire was reported at about 12:40 p.m. Monday in the area of Highlands and Aguanga Ranchos roads, near the junction of Highways 79 and 371, according to the Riverside County Fire Department. The Riverside county Fire Department

Multiple engine and hand crews from the Riverside County Fire Department, Corona Fire Department, Hemet Fire Department, Murrieta Fire & Rescue, Palm Springs Fire Department, U.S. Forest Service, and other agencies were sent to the location and encountered flames moving at a moderate rate to the west, the Riverside County Fire Department reported.

Santa Ana winds became a significant factor as the afternoon progressed, but by 6 p.m., they had largely abated, according to regional weather reports.

Shortly after 3 p.m., the flames crossed Highway 371, moving west-southwest, heading toward residences in the 45100 and 45800 blocks of Highway 371, according to officials.

The fire reportedly damaged a house in the 45800 block of Jojoba Road. The occupants escaped uninjured, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Evacuation orders were posted for the area encompassing Boulder Vista Street to the west, Becker Lane to the east, Cottonwood Creek to the north, Golden Eagle Drive to the south, Highway 371 to the south, Soreson to the west, and County Line Road to the north.

An additional evacuation order was issued by CalFire Tuesday morning for north of the San Diego County line south of Highway 79, east of Forest Route 8S07, and west of Crosley Truck Trail.

An evacuation warning was issued for the area encompassing Shirley Way to the west, the Vail Lake Resort to the east, David Street to the north, Pueblo Road to the south, Cahuilla Tribal Reservation Boundary to the west, County Line Road to the north, Cleveland National Forest to the north, Watts Road to the south, Esplendida Way, Avenida Bravura, Pauba Road to the east, De Portola Road, and Round Top Canyon Road to the west.

CHP officers shut down Highway 79 at County Line Road for public safety. The 79/371 junction was also closed, and motorists were being turned around.

A care and reception center was established for evacuees at Great Oak High School in Temecula. Residents with large and small pets were invited to drop them off at the San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus for safekeeping.

Six Cal Fire air tankers and four water-dropping helicopters initiated runs on the fire before ground crews’ arrival, closing off its eastern flank. However, winds fanned the flames as crews worked to encircle the wildfire.

All air tankers cleared the area due to nightfall at 6:05 p.m. One water-dropping helicopter equipped for night operations remained in orbits, making targeted runs in support of ground crews, officials said.

The blaze started near a residence, but the exact cause was under investigation.

–City News Service