A fast-moving wildfire in Southern California has burned seven homes and a dozen other buildings, scorching thousands of acres since it began on Monday.
The wildfire broke out in the San Jacinto Mountains just west of Palm Springs and grew rapidly on Tuesday, forcing the evacuation of about 50 homes and closing part of the Pacific Coast Trail, The Associated Press reported.
The blaze has destroyed three mobile homes and three residences, and also damaged one other in the Bonita Vista area, according to the U.S. Forest Service. One commercial building in Palm Springs, a workshop, a garage and a cabin were also destroyed, along with a total of 11 buildings and between four and six vehicles. By Wednesday morning, the fire had more than doubled in size, burning more than 14,200 acres. About 2,200 firefighters, nearly 100 engines and 25 aircraft were battling the wildfire and had it 10 percent contained, the Forest Service reported.
"It is important to note that while homes and buildings were destroyed or damaged, firefighters were able to defend and save a larger number of homes," the Forest Service said in an incident report.
U.S. Forest Service spokesman John Miller told the Riverside Press-Enterprise that the quick response of property owners likely helped save some structures.
"Honestly, we thought that the structure destruction was greater than it is," Miller said.
The fire is moving east toward Palm Springs, but could quickly switch direction with a change in the wind. According to the National Weather Service, temperatures in Palm Springs through Friday are expected to top 100 degrees, and winds of up to 5 mph will be blowing westward. By Saturday evening, there will be a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms.
The U.S. Forest Service said firefighters face a high level of difficulty facing the "very steep and rugged terrain" of the fire and that it still has an extreme potential for growth.
"It's a rapidly changing animal," Forest Service spokesman Lee Beyer told the AP.
Palm Springs Fire Chief John Allen said in a statement that there are currently no plans for a widespread evacuation, but said they can expect to see fire activity throughout Wednesday.
"The Palm Springs Fire Department is in constant contact with CALFIRE and the U.S. Forest Service, who are fighting this fire aggressively," Allen said. "We will continue to update the community as needed."
A Bonita Vista resident who was forced to evacuate on Monday told the Riverside Press-Enterprise that 100-foot flames were about a quarter of a mile away from his home.
"You've got to feel young living here because you have to move fast," said Norm Chaffin, 77.