Authorities say a brush fire that may have been set intentionally, erupted today in the San Bernardino National Forest, quickly scorching at least 4,700 acres, forcing road closures and evacuations in the area.
Dubbed the #CranstonFire, The U.S. Forest Service said the blaze was first reported at around noon near state Route 74 between Hemet and Mountain Center and was burning with "a rapid rate of speed."
No injuries have been reported in connection with the blaze which was zero percent contained as of 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Mandatory evacuations are in place for residents of southwest Idyllwild, as well as for those in Mountain Center along McGaugh and McCall Park roads.
A USFS Twitter post didn't mince words about the danger: "Leave the area immediately," it warned.
ABC7 reports that Authorities have arrested 32-year-old, Brandon N. McGlover, for allegedly setting multiple fires in the area. McGlover has been booked on 5 counts of arson.
Evacuation centers have been established in the following areas:
- Banning High School for residents and to reunify with campers
- Banning High School for small animals
- San Jacinto High School for large animals
Banning High School is located at 100 W. Westward Ave.
Several road closures were also ordered as the fire drew close to and eventually jumped Route 243 near the Idyllwild Grinding Facility. Road closures include state Route 74 between Cranston Fire Station and Lake Hemet, as well as state Route 243 between Pine Cove and Mountain Center.
A smoke advisory has also been issued for the region, with winds bringing smoke from the fire down into various parts of Riverside County. They also include the Coachella Valley, Banning Pass, the Hemet/San Jacinto Valley, Perris Valley and Anza.
The smoke advisory is in effect through Thursday morning.
Authorities have also set up a fire information call center for the public. You can reach them with any questions or concerns at (909) 383-5688.
Photo: HPWREN Webcam