Skip to comments.Update: Now 4 Firefighters Perish Battling Cabazon Blaze (Investigators: Arson Fire Palm Springs)
Posted on 10/26/2006 11:48:53 AM PDT by kellynla
CABAZON, Calif. -- A fast-moving fire killed at least three firefighters, prompted mandatory evacuations and burned more than 4,000 acres in Riverside County this morning, officials said.
The Esperanza fire in Cabazon, some 90 miles east of Los Angeles and about 20 miles northwest of Palm Springs, was reported at 1:12 a.m., Becky Luther, a spokeswoman for the Riverside County Fire Department, said in a telephone interview.
"It's a very serious fire," Luther said. "There are Santa Ana conditions and the fire is fast moving."
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told reporters that three firefighters were killed fighting the blaze. The U.S. Forest Service confirmed the deaths, adding that two firefighters were critically injured.
The exact dimensions of the fire were hard to determine because of the thick smoke and the relative lack of access, according to Capt. Julie Hutchinson of the Riverside County Fire Department and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Television images showed houses and other structures burning, but the exact number could not be confirmed.
Wind speed and heat are the twin dangers at the fire scene. Winds were running 18 to 25 mph with steady gusts of 30 mph, Luther said. Temperatures are expected to be around 80 degrees.
More than 300 firefighters were battling the blaze, though that number was increasing, fire officials said. More than 27 crews were at the scene along with 68 engines, six air tankers and seven helicopters.
There were reports that at least one firefighter and some residents required medical treatment. But fire officials stressed the reports were unconfirmed.
A mandatory evacuation was ordered for the Twin Pines and Poppet Flats areas, Luther said.
About 150 homes were threatened in the areas with the majority, about 100 homes, in Twin Pines.
(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...
How awful. Prayers for them and their families.
hey, mister, try dogging someone else
we have 3 dead firemen, two more in very bad shape, plus friends and loved ones in danger
and we don't need some anonymous clown in Iowa making wiseass remarks.
May the firefighters RIP.
Prayers for the families of the three firefighters who have answered their last alarm and for the injured. God Bless them all.
I wasn't dogging anyone until you responded from your gut instead of your brain.
Get a grip.
God Bless the fireman and thier families..
Santa Ana winds blowing pretty good right now, bad time for hot and dry Southern California..
I am mourning these brave men.
We here in Western NY do not have to worry about these fires, but we respect the heroic efforts of our neighbors to the west who risk all to protect life and property.
Please, all Freepers, keep the families in your prayers.
Please don't argue on this thread. This is a horrible thing. Let's just do the right thing and pray for these guys (and possibly gals) and their families. Thanks.
let it go.. for the love of my fallen family, please!
God bless these members of your family and comfort their loved ones.
Are you safe?
You mentioned last night you're in that area.
Wow! What a picture. Thanks, I didn't know that.
How close is all of this to Rancho Cucamonga?
The winds are really heavy up here in the Angeles Forest today and the alert is Extremely High.
Mourning our heroes on the fire line and praying for the safety of all the rest.
I'm in Hemet, no wind but smoky and ashy. When I woke up this morning, the whole sky was smoke.
Prayers for the family and co-workers.....
RC is about 45 to and hour away from Cabazon...
It's on the other side of Big Bear...
Thank you. We have some relatives who live in RC.
I am watching this on FNC and I cannot believe how fast and furious this fire is.
I pray for all of the people out there that they are safe.
I am in Oceanside and it is very windy, and the sky is very greyish brown looking..
Any news on how this fire may have been started?
Breaking on MSNBC.com:As many as 400 people trapped in RV park near Calif. wildfire, official says
Red Flag Warnings for Much of California issued by NWS
A RED FLAG WARNING MEANS THAT CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE EITHER OCCURRING NOW...OR WILL SHORTLY. A COMBINATION OF STRONG WINDS...LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY...AND WARM TEMPERATURES WILL CREATE EXPLOSIVE FIRE GROWTH POTENTIAL.
A RED FLAG WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 11 PM SATURDAY FOR...
SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY INTERIOR VALLEYS
VENTURA COUNTY INTERIOR VALLEYS
VENTURA COUNTY COASTAL VALLEYS
SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS RECREATIONAL AREA
LOS ANGELES COUNTY VALLEYS
SANTA CLARITA VALLEY
SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY MOUNTAINS / LOS PADRES NATIONAL FOREST
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY MOUNTAINS / LOS PADRES NATIONAL FOREST
VENTURA COUNTY MOUNTAINS / LOS PADRES NATIONAL FOREST
LOS ANGELES COUNTY MOUNTAINS / ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST
SAN BERNARDINO AND RIVERSIDE COUNTY VALLEYS
THE INLAND EMPIRE
SAN DIEGO COUNTY INLAND VALLEYS
My home smells of smoke and there is ash settling on my car. There are a lot of firetrucks on the roads here heading out that way. My daughter just told me Fox News said the firemen are going to focus on the San Jacinto area.
I hope it doesn't go into Idylwild. That's my playground.
The Riverside County Fire website states it's under investigation. I checked there and the California Highway Patrol Incident page for info.
There is many RV parks in that area, what we need is rain and lots of it! the entire Southern California looks like a tinder box!
I hope the people and the animals are safe and in evacuation centers!
Is Apple Valley anywhere near this? I have about 25 relatives gathering there this week, for a reunion.
Rancho Cucamonga is 50 miles (Mapquest says 49.3) from Cabazon down I10.
Be safe! My best friend lives in Cathedral City and she said the entire area is full of ash and smoke!
God forbid the fire makes it to Idylwild, Big Bear or Arrowhead!
I read on the Cal Highway Patrol site that they were bringing in horse trailers for the animals. Here in Hemet, the high school is being used for an evacuation center. They must be evacuating our local mountain, Idylwild and Pine Cove etc...
Yes it's about an hour away from Cabazon. This past summer they just had another major fire up there in the Morongo Valley and Pioneertown.
Glad to know the authorites are ready as much as they can for all this.
My cousin emailed me and said they can see the fire from Temecula!
400 people trapped in Silent Valley Club, RV park in Cabazon.
Fire is blocking the exit road.
I was just reading CHP incident page on this fire and they said they had to escort the media off of Hwy. 243 for their safety. I hope the media doesn't cause any extra work for our guys/gals. We've got residents all through that mountain area that will need escorted out.
I agree! It's dangerous now and all the media is just going to put the firefighters in danger because they will have to be rescued and escorted out.
Hwy 243 is also a dangerous road...
Will you have to leave?
Hare the latest figures from the Esperanza Wildfire:
--Three firefighters killed. Two others burned to Arrowhead Medical Centers burn center. A civilian suffered minor smoke inhalation.
--300 to 400 people evacuated.
--20 to 25 mph winds, with gusts up to 35 mph.
--1:12 a.m. fire started.
--More than 4,000 acres.
--Twin Pines Ranch and Poppet Flats have been evacuated.
--At least 700 firefighters are helping fight the blaze, including California Department of Corrections inmates.
--The fire is jumping around because of the erratic winds that are gusting with wind directions varying.
--Flames are moving in a westerly direction.
--Aerial attacks are underway with helicopters and planes packed with retardant flying out of Hemet Ryan Airport.
Losing three firefighters obviously has been a very difficult situation for the firefighters, said Sherri Patterson, a spokeswoman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection/ Riverside County Fire Department.
"We are dealing with extreme fire behavior today," she said. "They are very concerned for the firefighters in the very steep and rugged terrain."
Yes, although the fire started just about 2 miles southeast of my office. The pass is divided by the I10 and this fire started south side of the I10. It is burning in the low foothills and at approx 11:15am it had burned about 5-6 miles west of the start area and burning behind a large shopping area and a very large gated community of senior living. The RV park on the news is just south of me going up the mountain RT 243. There is only one road in or out of that RV park. They are in a bad area as it is also down in a hollow too. The wind is whipping now, I'll tell ya. We could use some prayers out our way. Much appreciated.
If it's intentional, I hope they get the guy and get him for murder. Prayers for the injured, burns are the worst, IMO.
Are you OK or should you be getting out?