- Associated Press - Thursday, September 5, 2019

MURRIETA, Calif. (AP) - The Latest on a wildfire burning in Southern California (all times local):

5:25 p.m.

Evacuations have been ordered after a wildfire in rural Northern California exploded in size.

The blaze broke out Thursday in Tehama County and quickly chewed through more than 1.5 square miles (3.9 square kilometers) of brush and timber. There is no containment.

Residents of ranches and other large properties west of Red Bluff have been ordered to leave. Officials didn’t immediately say how many people are affected.

In Southern California crews saved homes after gusty winds pushed winds down a hillside and into a neighborhood in the Riverside County city of Murrieta.

Officials say firefighters with air support are racing to put out hotspots from the blaze that has charred more than 3 square miles (8 square kilometers) of dry brush southeast of Los Angeles. That fire is 7% contained.


2:15 p.m.

Renewed winds are presenting challenges for crews battling a stubborn wildfire near a Southern California neighborhood.

Cal Fire Capt. Fernando Herrera says Thursday that flames on the fire’s southern edge rushed down a hillside toward homes in Murrieta in Riverside County.

No structures have burned. Nearly 500 homes are under mandatory evacuation orders. Hundreds more are in the voluntary evacuation zone.

Aircraft are making continuous drops of water and retardant.

Herrera says firefighters are protecting horse farms on the western side of the blaze.

The fire that broke out Wednesday in rural land grew to more than 2 square miles (5.4 square kilometers). It’s just 7% contained.

There’s no word on a cause but lightning strikes have been reported as muggy weather produced thunderstorms.


10:30 p.m.

Schools southeast of Los Angeles will be closed because of a wildfire that’s scorched nearly 1,000 acres of brush and is threatening homes.

No buildings have burned and no injuries are reported Wednesday night but Riverside County fire officials say flames are heading toward the town of Murrieta. Schools in the Murrieta Valley Unified School District will be closed Thursday as a precaution.

The blaze, possibly caused by lightning from an afternoon storm, is burning through brushy hillsides just west of town. A mandatory evacuation was declared for about 20 homes in the unincorporated community of La Cresta.

A mandatory evacuation also was ordered for an area of Copper Canyon in Murrieta. It’s unclear how many homes are affected there.

About 300 firefighters plan to battle the flames through the night.


9:40 p.m.

A wildfire southeast of Los Angeles has burned nearly 1,000 acres of brush but no home damage or injuries are reported.

Riverside County fire officials say it erupted Wednesday afternoon in a hilly area just west of Murrieta.

Authorities declared a mandatory evacuation for 14 homes in the community of La Cresta.

The city of Murrieta issued voluntary evacuation for two neighborhoods.

Fire spokesman Rob Roseen says about 300 firefighters along with aircraft fought the flames.

A Murrieta resident, 18-year-old Rachel Gildersleeve, tells the Los Angeles Times she found herself driving a back road surrounded by flame and blinding smoke.

There’s no word on what sparked the fire but a storm that brought lightning and gusty winds had come through the area.

Roseen says the winds were easing Wednesday night.

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