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At Least 1 Home Destroyed, Evacuations Ordered In Nearly 3,000-Acre Summit Fire

BANNING ( — A fast-moving, wind-driven brush fire Wednesday destroyed at least one home and prompted evacuations in Banning.

More than 400 firefighters and 46 engine companies were battling the blaze, which started around 12:30 p.m. near North San Gorgonio Road and Summit Drive.

Six helicopters and six tankers were also fighting what was later dubbed the Summit fire. As of 11 p.m., it scorched nearly 3,000 acres and was 35 percent contained.

One firefighter suffered minor injuries in the effort.

Late in the afternoon, Banning Mayor Debbie Franklin said the blaze was moving west and north of the city, specifically toward the Banning Bench, Cherry Valley and Highland Springs.

Police evacuated residents along Indian School Lane and the top of Eighth Street, as well as those living at the Highland Springs Mobile Home Park.

Joe Kiener, 53, said he escaped with his dog before his home was engulfed in flames.

"It's happened before in the past. The house was still standing. This time, it didn't make it. After losing my mom a month ago…God rest her soul…that took the fight right out of me. You gotta rebuild," he said.

Resident Phyllis Zakian told CBS2's Greg Mills that her "cable guy" warned her of the wildfire.

"He said, 'Ma'am, I don't think I can come back because your hill is on fire.' It's pretty scary to know it's that close," she said.

Debbie Callin said, "I could see my neighbors running around. I could hear the screaming. I saw the fire trucks coming. We saw horses running up the street, sheep running around. It was out of control."

Families sought shelter at the Banning Community Services Center, located at 789 San Gorgonio, until the evacuation orders were lifted.

An evacuation center for small animals was opened at San Jacinto Valley Animal Services Center in San Jacinto, and a center for large animals was opened at Noble Creek Park in Beaumont.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory for the area.

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