341-Acre Wildfire Burning Near Palm Desert Now 80% Contained

City News Service

A wildfire that charred 341 acres and destroyed two homes in the Pinyon Pines area of the San Bernardino National Forest was 80% contained Wednesday.

Crews are continuing to work within rocky terrain to encircle the blaze amid triple-digit temperatures stemming from a heat wave that will continue to bear down on Southern California throughout the week.

The Flats fire was previously pegged at 400 acres, but fire officials announced the smaller acreage footprint on Wednesday, citing more accurate mapping.

The brush fire sparked for unknown reasons just after 11 a.m. Sunday near state Route 74 west of the Pinyon Flat campground, about eight miles south of Palm Desert, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The flames on Sunday jumped the highway burning to the northeast, prompting a mandatory evacuation order for residents of Pinyon Crest, and non- mandatory evacuation warnings for the communities Pinyon Pines and Alpine Village.

All orders and warnings were fully lifted Tuesday, although fire officials warned residents that properties within the burn area may still be unsafe.

About 400 firefighters, who were assigned to the firefight at the height of the blaze, stopped the forward rate of spread by Sunday evening, but not before the flames destroyed two homes and damaged three homes and three outbuildings. One firefighter suffered unspecified injuries while battling the blaze.

A lengthy stretch of SR-74 was shut down in both directions due to the fire, but was fully reopened on Tuesday.

The blaze sparked 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.

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