Evacuation warnings have been issued for residents of rural communities near a fire burning along side state Route 79 just south of Beaumont. Fire officials say the Manzanita Fire has already burned 5,000 acres and only 10% contained.
The blaze began Monday afternoon near the Lamb Canyon landfill, near Route 79 and Dump Road. A two-car wreck is being blamed for sparking the wildfire after one of the cars caught on fire during the accident.
The victims of the crash were taken to the hospital, but officials didn't say if or how the motorists were injured.
The wildfire is getting uncomfortably close to the small rural communities of Poppet Flats and Silent Valley, which has prompted fire officials to issue evacuation orders for those areas. including Highland Home Road East to Highway 243.
Cal Fire officials say 28 engine crews and 15 hand crews were being aided by air tankers and water dropping helicopters to fight the fire until the sun set last night. Around 350 personnel are deployed along the fire lines.
State Route 79 was shut down between Gilman Springs Road and Interstate 10, creating major traffic headaches for commuters last night. The CHP reopened all southbound lanes opened just before midnight on Monday, as well as a single lane on the northbound side. According to reports from the scene, the fire was burning brush on both sides of the four-lane highway.