The wind is the big problem and it has started to pick up over the past couple of hours causing the Fairview Fire that broke out in the Hemet area Monday afternoon to gain speed.
Hilario Gutierrez a Hemet resident says the flames blew through Avery Canyon so fast. He and his family only had minutes to evacuate their home.
“A neighbor was coming over here like ‘it’s time to get out from here,’ because the fire is coming too fast because the wind was bringing everything to this side,” Gutierrez said. “We didn’t have time to get something, we got the kids and ran away.”
The Gutierrez family raced down the winding dirt road to safety and somehow their home escaped the flames.
Their next door neighbor’s homes was burned to the ground. Sadly two of their other neighbors who Gutierrez says lived at the now burned down home did not escape.
He says a father and his daughter died and his wife was severely burned.
Fire officials say it appears they were trying to get out but the flames moved too fast.
“I’m very sorry for the family,” Gutierrez said.
Down at the road block a few miles away, evacuated residents like Dawn Markel and her 17-year-old son also had to quickly leave.
“Luckily he grabbed clothes,” Markel said. “I’m wearing my son’s clothes.”
She was able to grab their two dogs and a chicken and a rooster, as the flames beared down on their neighborhood.
“I’m still shaking I’ve had three hours of sleep and it’s a high stress situation,” Markel said.
A stress felt by so many including Mark Jo Ramirez, who runs a ranch for under privileged children.
All of the kids got out safely but Ramirez is worried about the therapy horse and goats that they couldn’t evacuate in time.
“We don’t know what the condition of the ranch is or what the fire did,” Ramirez said.
Officers with the Riverside County Department of Animal Services gave some families the good news that their animals were alive and well, including the Figueroa family.
“By the time my mom was in the truck and we were loading up the first round of horses we could see the flames coming down this side,” said Lupe Figueroa.
They were relieved to see pictures of the more than dozen horses they had to leave behind.
“Most of them are mares that are pregnant or have foals,” Figueroa said.
Grateful for the many lives that were saved and heartbroken over the lives that were lost.
“I just send my deepest condolences to those who lost their life,” Figueroa said. “I wish I could say sorry to their family.”
This fire has already burned four thousand acres at least seven homes have been destroyed. Tuesday afternoon CalFire officials sent out new evacuation orders. This will affect people who live along Thomas Mountain Ridge South to Cactus Valley and then to Bautista Canyon to the Forest Boundary.
Source: NBC Los Angeles