BANNING, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters slowly increased containment Tuesday of a huge fire in Southern California mountains that’s forced thousands of people from their homes.
The wildfire straddling Riverside and San Bernardino counties had consumed nearly 42 square miles (more than 108 square kilometers) of dry brush and chaparral since it broke out Friday evening, according to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
As of Tuesday morning, it was 15% contained. About 7,000 residents remained under evacuation orders. Five buildings had been destroyed, including at least one home.
Jack Thompson evacuated his canyon home as flames drew closer Sunday. He said his wife grabbed his hand as they rounded a corner in their SUV and encountered a wall of smoke and fire.
“‘We’re going to be all right,’ I said, then I put the pedal to the floor. We broke through the flames and saw a clear path ahead,” Thompson told the Los Angeles Times.
The wildfire was sparked by a vehicle spewing burning carbon from its exhaust system, igniting several fires in the Cherry Valley area east of downtown Los Angeles, officials said Monday.
In Northern California, crews made progress against a blaze that burned close to homes near East Park Reservoir in Colusa County. It was 40% contained Monday.