The Fairview fire near Hemet, California exploded in size, burning nearly 20,000 acres and forcing evacuations.

Norman Nielsen, 65, told CNN Thursday that he and his wife were sleeping when the mayor came knocking on his door to conduct forced evictions. The couple have lived in a mobile fairview park for the past 10 years and were quick to think about what to pack on the way to the shelter.

“I didn’t think it would ever happen,” Nielsen said. “(It’s) scary because… you never know when you might be next.”

She said firefighters were knocking on Christina Delmarque’s door in Hemet as well.

“I just grabbed my bag full of papers for like, the kids…because I brought four kids here with me, and I brought my mom here,” she said, adding that her husband stayed home to wet the house, so it was so not consumed by the flames.

“I’m so lucky that we’re all together,” she said. “No matter where we are, this is home.”

Nelson and Delmark are just two of the presumed thousands in the Riverside County community who were subject to new eviction orders this week as the Fairview fire nearly quadrupled its reach from the day before.

Cal Fire, officially known as the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said that as of Thursday afternoon, the fire had burned 18,657 acres and was only 5% contained. The authorities said this comes as the region is grappling with a severe heat wave.
Cal Fire said the cause of the fire, which is believed to have started on Monday afternoon, is under investigation.
The fire, which killed two people in a car earlier this week, forced a series New evacuation orders and warnings in the area announced by Cal Fire Thursday morning. Details about how many people were affected by the orders were not immediately available.

Ken Rieger, the shelter’s supervisor, said a Red Cross shelter in Hemet opened on Monday for evacuees.

“We’re working 24/7… and we now have about 55 customers,” he said, adding that the county’s animal control takes people’s pets for free. “A lot of them don’t know if they have a home or not.”

Officials say the fire is “burning in all directions”

Cal Fire Brigade commander Josh Jansen said at the time that the fire was “burning in all directions and on all wings” on Wednesday morning.

The rapidly growing fire comes as California and several states on the West Coast heat up in a heatwave that is setting record high temperatures, fueling devastating wildfires and threatening to shut down California’s electricity. The heat wave can last longer due to the effects of a powerful hurricane along Mexico’s Pacific coast.

Schools in the Hemeet Unified School District were closed due to the fire. It was not clear when it would reopen.

“The flames will become active with the initial movement to the east due to the westerly winds. Sharp discharges will help spread with the valley/slope winds and heavy fuels,” Cal Fire said online Thursday about the fire.

The circuit’s activity occurred “close to” the time of the fire, Southern California Edison reported in a statement Monday, but the company said it “does not acknowledge that its equipment caused the wildfires.”

This notification is intended to report the incident to the California Public Utilities Commission so the agency can conduct an investigation, according to another document filed in coordination with the report.

As a result of the Fairview fire, Riverside County declared a state of emergency. The declaration must be presented to the Board of Supervisors within seven days for formal approval, according to the county’s website. The next board meeting is on Tuesday.

“The emergency declaration can help make the county eligible for potential federal and state assistance and reimbursement. In addition, the declaration allows the county to more easily purchase services and materials needed to respond to the emergency,” the county’s website said.

Two people were killed in the fast-moving flames that quickly swelled over the thirsty vegetation. The two people were members of the sergeant’s family. Brandy Swann said Wednesday.

“It looks as if the two victims who were found in the car were trying to escape from the fire,” Swan said, adding that the victims had not been identified.

She said a third woman, a relative of the two deceased, was found outside the car.

“She sustained some serious injuries and is recovering in hospital,” Swan said. “Always when there is a loss, we always feel it. It’s sad to think the fire moved so fast that they couldn’t leave.”

Nuran Saliha, Taylor Romain, Stella Chan, Rachel Ramirez and Dakin Andoni contributed to this report.

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