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Brush Fire Near Banning Leads to Evacuations

Emergency: One home is damaged but about 25 are saved. More than 300 firefighters battle the blaze.

July 12, 2001|From a Times Staff Writer

Firefighters ordered the evacuation of dozens of homes and a juvenile correctional facility after a brush fire scorched more than 600 acres Wednesday in a mountainous area south of Banning.

One residence was damaged after the fire erupted about 2 p.m., but no structures were destroyed and no firefighters were injured.

By late Wednesday the fire had been about 25% contained, said Joanne Evans, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry.

"We're dealing with extremely heavy brush, so we'll probably be at it all night," she said.

About 350 firefighters were at the scene. Eleven air tankers dumped fire retardants on the flames, and four helicopters doused the blaze with water.

The flames spread through the Poppet Flat area of the San Jacinto Mountains at about the 4,000-foot level between Banning and Idyllwild.

Shortly after the fire began, about 25 ranch-style homes were saved by teams of firefighters.

"The fire was pretty darn close to these homes, but strike teams of engines and firefighters were able to keep the fire away," Evans said. "A lot of these people had good fire clearance around their houses . . . which means that they had removed a lot of flammable brush and debris from around their homes. That, too, helped save the houses."

On Wednesday afternoon, firefighters were called to another Riverside County brush fire. But by nightfall that blaze, just west of Perris, was fully controlled, Evans said. About 300 acres burned, but no homes were evacuated and no structures were damaged.

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