IDYLLWILD (CBSLA) – An arson-sparked wildfire burning in the San Jacinto Mountains near the Riverside County community of Idyllwild continues to grow, as thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes.
The Cranston Fire grew to 13,118 acres Saturday morning and was 29 percent contained by the evening. The fire was active overnight Friday, burning east into Garner Valley.
“Concerns remain on the northeast portion of the fire along South Ridge with fire backing through retardant line above the town of Idyllwild,” the U.S. Forest Service said in a statement Saturday.
About 7,000 people remain under mandatory evacuation orders. Five homes have been destroyed and 4,927 structures remain threatened.
About 1,300 firefighters from multiple agencies are battling the blaze with the help of five water-dropping helicopters and nine fixed-wing aircraft.
Two firefighters have been hurt, according to USFS. Their conditions were unknown.
The following areas remain under mandatory evacuation: Mountain Center, Idyllwild, Hurkey Creek, San Jacinto Mountain State Park, Fern Valley, Pine Cove, Cedar Glen and all of Garner Valley. Several recreation areas in the Mt. San Jacinto State Park and the San Bernardino National Forest are closed.
Paradise Corner is under an evacuation warning, meaning residents need to be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.
The Cranston Fire broke out at around 11:40 a.m. Wednesday, east of the Cranston Fire Station off Highway 74, between Hemet and Mountain Center.
That same afternoon, a 32-year-old man was arrested in connection with the blaze. Brandon McGlover of Temecula was taken into custody at about 1 p.m. Wednesday in Hemet.
On Friday, the Riverside County district attorney’s office charged McGlover with starting nine fires in southwest Riverside County, including the Cranston Fire, all on the same day. He faces a total of 15 felony counts, including one count of aggravated arson, five counts of arson of an inhabited structure and nine counts of arson of forest or wildland.
Highway 74 is closed from the city of Hemet to Highway 371 at Paradise Corner. Highway 243 is closed from Banning to the intersection with Highway 74.
An evacuation center is in place at Banning High School.