About 400 firefighters worked through the night and into Monday to put out a 400-acre brushfire in the Pinyon Pines area of the San Bernardino National Forest that destroyed two homes and prompted mandatory evacuations.
The fire was first reported about 11:05 a.m. Sunday west of the Pinyon Flat campground in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, about eight miles south of Palm Desert, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The flames spread at a moderate rate and jumped state Route 74 in a northeasterly direction, U.S. Forest Service officials said.
The fire destroyed two homes and damaged three homes and three outbuildings, officials said.
A mandatory evacuation was ordered for Pinyon Crest and state Route 74 in the area was closed. Evacuation warnings were also issued for the nearby communities of Pinyon Pines and Alpine Village.
Firefighters managed to clear lines of vegetation around 10% of the fire as of Sunday night and they continued to make good progress at clearing more containment lines..
USFS officials reported that one firefighter was injured and was undergoing a medical evaluation.
State Route 74 was shut down in both directions between state Route 371 near Garner Valley and Palowet Drive in Palm Desert, and the public was asked to avoid the area.
An evacuation center was set up at Idyllwild Elementary School, 26700 state Route 243, Idyllwild.
Small animals could be taken to the Coachella Valley Animal Campus in Thousand Palms, 72050 Petland Place, and both large and small animals could be taken to the Riverside County Department of Animal Services facility in San Jacinto, 581 South Grand Ave.
Meanwhile, a public information line for the fire was set up at 951- 940-6985.
The blaze comes just as a ridge of high pressure began to move over the Southland, bringing temperatures 15 to 20 degrees above average, low humidity and elevated fire danger.
According to the National Weather Service, valleys, mountains and desert slopes will be most susceptible to fires in the afternoons and evenings, as relative humidity drops to single digits and temperatures reach triple digits in the Inland Empire.
“These elevated fire weather threats while not critical, will be greatest Tuesday through at least Friday,” the NWS said.