MURRIETA (CBSLA) – Two structures were damaged and hundreds of people remained under evacuation orders Thursday as firefighters struggled to deal with flare-ups from the Tenaja brush fire.
The fire remained at 2,000 acres Friday morning, but containment jumped to 20 percent contained, CAL FIRE reported just after 6 a.m. Friday. There were no injuries and no structures had been destroyed, but two unidentified structures did incur minor damage, authorities said.
Just after 2:15 p.m., new evacuation orders were issued for Montanya Place, Bonita Place, Belcara Place and Lone Oak Way in the city of Murrieta.
This was in addition to evacuations already in place for the communities of Copper Canyon South, south of Calle del Oso Oro, between Clinton Keith Road and Murrieta Creek Drive at Calle del Oso Oro.
All homes along Trails Circle in La Cresta were also under mandatory evacuation orders. In total, about 500 homes were under mandatory evacuation, with another 500 more facing voluntary evacuation. Murrieta Valley, Menifee Union, Romoland, Lake Elsinore, Nuview Union, and Temecula Valley school districts are all closed Friday, along with Perris Elementary and Perris High School.
The risk of high winds and lighting is also prompting officials to keep evacuations in place. Residents were urged to stay away from the area during the evacuation orders.
“We don’t want to open an area or lift any evacuations until we’re 100 percent certain that the fire, at least in those areas that are threatened, is pretty much contained,” Herrera said.
The blaze was first reported at 4:43 p.m. Wednesday in the area of Tenaja Road and Clinton Keith Road, according to the CAL Fire/Riverside County Fire Department. Reports indicated a thunderstorm cell moved through the area just prior to the fire, but there was still no official word on a possible cause.
It started at 25 acres, and with the help of gusty winds, by 9 p.m. Wednesday it had erupted to 994 acres. There hasn’t been a fire in these canyons for more than 20 years, so there is a lot of fuel for the blaze, officials said.
“It was about 4 p.m., me and my brother walked outside because we heard the thunderstorm, and then I looked over and I saw the smoke, and it was just a little bit, and I was like, ‘oh my gosh, there’s a little brush fire starting,’” Murrieta resident Keaghan Ward told CBS2. “And then it turned into this big thing…It was about 20 minutes, it turned really big.”
More than 500 firefighters were battling the blaze Thursday with the help of six air tankers and three water-dropping helicopters, according to CAL Fire.
Clinton Keith Road south of Avenida La Cresta was still closed Friday morning. However, Los Gatos, Via Volcano and Tenaja Road have reopened.
An evacuation center was set up at Murrieta Mesa High School located at 24801 Monroe Ave. Small animals were being accepted there. Large animals could be taken to the San Jacinto Animal Shelter, located at 581 S. Grand Ave., in San Jacinto. Horse trailers could be taken to the Los Alamos Sports Park.