A FIRE in the Idyllwild area of California has destroyed five homes and prompted the governor to declare a state of emergency, as thousands are forced from their homes with the blaze raging on.
The Cranston fire started on Wednesday and has spread to 4,700 acres as firefighters continue to tackle the ferocious flames.
Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency and ordered California’s Office of Emergency Services to provide government assistance to Riverside County.
He suspended a one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance benefits for those unemployed as a result of the Cranston Fire.
The blaze began at around 12pm on Wednesday and is believed to have been started by arson on the south-west corner along Highway 74, according to authorities.
Firefighters concentrated their focus on the Apple Canyon area and Lake Hemet on Thursday.
California Fire Captain Scott Visyak told ABC: “It’s going to be hot, it’s going to be dry and the winds are going to pick up and there’s still a lot of fire burning out there so we’ve got a big concern just on firefighter safety alone.”
More than 3,200 people and 2,100 homes have been evacuated in Idyllwild, Apple Canyon, Lake Hemet, Mountain Centre, Hurkey Creek, along with the Camp Scherman Girls Scouts camp.
Idyllwild resident Mario Deniz said: “Once that wind hit, man, it was just incredible. Everybody took off and we were the last one here but, you know, it’s our homes. What can we do?”
Around 700 firefighters were at the scene east of Hemet, where the bushfire was burning along Highway 74.
The fire was being fuelled by timber, brush and chaparral as high as six feet, and it was only 5 percent contained by mid afternoon on Thursday local time.