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Idyllwild Mountain Fire burns 22,800 acres, thousands evacuated

Posted By KATE STANTON, UPI.com   |   July 18, 2013 at 9:58 PM   |   Comments

July 18 (UPI) -- Thousands of people have already been evacuated from their homes in the Idyllwild, Fern Valley and other areas of Riverside County, where an enormous wildfire has ballooned to 35 square miles, The Desert Sun reported Thursday.

The blaze, called a Mountain Fire because of its origin in a small community, has burned through 22,800 acres and forced the evacuations of 6,000 people. Up to 3,000 firefighters are working to stem the growth of the fire, though it's only 15 percent contained so far.

"The fire started Monday, which seems like several years from now with everything we've done, but it's only been a few days," Incident Commander Jeanne Pincha-Tulley told reporters at a Thursday afternoon news conference in Idyllwild.

Pincha-Tulley said that a person started the fire on Monday afternoon, though officials are still investigating the cause.

As of Thursday evening, the fire had come within two miles of Palm Springs, {link:according to the Los Angeles Times,
: "http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-massive-mountain-fire-burning-a-few-miles-from-palm-springs-20130718,0,2081013.story" target="_blank"} with some Idyllwild residents claiming that they had prepared for such a disaster.

"The whole town is built around the fact we're vulnerable to a fire," a 58-year-old teacher told the Times.

Others said the fire moved so fast through the wilderness that they barely had time to pack.

"Before we had a chance to do much, start to load up some things from the home, start to load up a few things from my business ... the fire was here," one resident said.

Officials said dry air and soaring temperatures -- while should stay in the 90s until Saturday -- had caused the fire to grow so large so fast.

"The slightest little spark is going to make a run and torch trees," rep for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said. "It's just so bone dry." Some of the area had not burned in 35 years.

Residents and reporters have taken to social media to document the action from the ground:










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