IDYLLWILD, Calif. Authorities in Southern California issued evacuation orders for hundreds of homes Wednesday as a major wildfire approached in the mountains southwest of Palm Springs.
Large parts of the communities of Idyllwild and Fern Valley were under evacuation orders with an estimated 300 to 400 homes affected, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Carol Jandrall.
Residents were being allowed home to pick up essential items before evacuating, Jandrall said.
About 60 homes were already under evacuation orders and seven have been destroyed or damaged by the wildfire that broke out Monday.
Temperatures were in triple digits in the area and humidity in the single digits, said Tina Rose, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
"I was here at sun-up, and the fire was burning like it was 3 o'clock in the afternoon. That is extreme fire behavior," Rose said, adding that the area had not burned in many years. "The slightest little spark is going to make a run and torch trees. It's just so bone dry."
The blaze destroyed three houses, damaged another and destroyed three mobile homes, a cabin, a garage and about a half-dozen vehicles, the U.S. Forest Service said in a statement Tuesday. Eleven outbuildings, five commercial buildings and several smaller structures also have been lost.
The wildfire started Monday between Palm Springs and Hemet, near the rural Riverside County community of Mountain Center, and grew to more than 22 square miles by Wednesday morning. It was burning in thick brush and trees at an elevation of 5,000 to 7,500 feet.
More than 2,200 firefighters and 25 aircraft had the blaze about 10 percent contained.
Camp Ronald McDonald, which hosts programs for children with cancer and their families, was also evacuated.