Full containment of the deadly Fairview Fire southeast of Hemet could be achieved Monday thanks to moisture from the remnants of Tropical Storm Kay, with the 28,307-acre fire now 43% surrounded by lines of cleared vegetation, authorities said Sunday.
“Fire activity has been greatly reduced due to the moisture from Tropical Storm Kay. Deep-seated heat is still present in the dense old-growth brush fields, and stump holes. Fine flashy fuels will not sustain fire or ignition,” fire officials said in a 9 p.m. Saturday statement.
The goal was to improve completed fire lines and establish more lines, officials said. The moisture was expected to minimize fire activity. A total of 2,241 firefighters remained assigned to the fire.
The rain did allow authorities to reduce some of the evacuation orders from mandatory to voluntary but officials warned fire behavior could still be unpredictable so residents allowed to return to their homes were “highly encouraged to remain alert during this dynamic incident.”
The area included east of State Street, south of Stetson Avenue, west of Fairview Avenue, north of the Fire perimeter, and north of Cactus Valley Road, Gibble Road, Polly Butte Road, Avery Canyon Road and Arvidson Road.
Mandatory evacuations remained in place for residents south of Cactus Valley Road, north of Minto Way, north of Red Mountain Road, west of the U.S. Forest Service boundary and east of Sage, west of Wilson Way, south of state Route 74, east of Fairview Avenue, north of Stetson Avenue, south of Minto, south of Red Mountain, west and north of Stanley Road and east of Sage.
Other evacuation warnings were active for those living west of Reed Valley Road and west of the USFS boundary, south of Stanley and north of Wilson Valley Road.
Late Friday afternoon, with the pace of the fire slowing, fire officials reduced mandatory evacuation orders to voluntary warnings for the area south of Diamond Valley Lake, east of Washington Street, north of Borel Road, east of Rancho California Road, east of Anza Road north of state Route 79, northwest of Highway 371 and west of Highway 74.
Evacuation orders were also made voluntary for the Ramona Village community and Olivet University.
State Route 74 in the San Bernardino National Forest was fully closed between Mountain Center and Borco Street, in the Valle Vista area.
The Fairview Fire was reported shortly after 2 p.m. Monday on Fairview Avenue and Bautista Road.
Two civilians were killed and one was severely injured early in the fire. Sheriff’s officials confirmed Wednesday the two deceased victims were found inside a vehicle in the 42400 block of Avery Canyon Road in East Hemet Monday, apparently overcome by the flames while trying to leave.
The two victims have not been formally identified by authorities, but friends identified them to reporters as Ian Compton and his autistic daughter Mikayla Porter. Friends said their family pets were also killed. Compton’s wife, Tina, was severely burned and remains hospitalized. A sheriff’s official said Wednesday the woman, who was found outside the vehicle on Avery Canyon Road, was expected to survive.
As of Saturday, the fire threatened 2,462 structures, destroyed 17 and damaged four, officials said. It also destroyed 13 so-called minor structures and damaged one.
The Riverside County Emergency Management Department declared a local emergency Wednesday due to the fire, enabling the county to apply for federal and state relief. The Board of Supervisors is slated to formally approve the proclamation during its meeting Tuesday. Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency covering the fire zone earlier this week.
Evacuation centers were set up at Tahquitz High School in Hemet, Temecula Valley High School and the Temecula Community Center.
The Department of Animal Services said the San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus was accepting large and small domestic creatures for safekeeping. Livestock were being cared for at the Perris Fairgrounds.
All fees for retaining pets will be waived under the county emergency order, agency spokesman John Welsh said.
The cause of the fire was under investigation. In a document filed with the California Public Utilities Commission, Southern California Edison reported “circuit activity” in the area close to the time the fire erupted.
On Saturday, a helicopter used to help fight the blaze crashed at the Banning Airport. The pilot and two firefighters suffered moderate injuries and were taken to a trauma center for treatment, authorities said.
Updated at 2:40 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022