A massive wildfire that has been burning out of control in Southern California forced the evacuation of about 6,000 people on Wednesday, as firefighters are struggling to contain the 22,800-acre blaze.
The Mountain Wildfire, as it is called, started in the San Jacinto Mountains on Monday, just west of Palm Springs. Since it started, the fire has more than tripled in size. On Tuesday, the wildfire had destroyed several buildings and burned through more than 14,000 acres of "steep and rugged terrain." The blaze claimed 22,800 acres by Thursday morning, and was 15 percent contained.
High temperatures and shifting winds have made it difficult for firefighters to contain or reduce the fire. A shift in the wind late Wednesday caused the fire to move faster towards Idyllwild, a community southwest of Palm Springs the U.S. Forest Service said.
"The fire has transitioned from a wind driven fire to a fuel and topography driven fire," the forest service said in a statement. "This condition has caused a shift in the direction of spread necessitating the evacuation as the fire moved to the west this afternoon and presents a threat to nearby communities. With vegetation moistures at record lows fire spread has been extreme and dangerous."
Palm Springs Fire Chief John Allen said there are still no plans for a widespread evacuation, but the U.S. Forest Service issued an evacuation notice Wednesday night for the communities of Idyllwild and Fern Valley.
"This is the best choice in a difficult situation," the U.S. Forest Service said in the evacuation notice. "The highest priority is to protect the lives of citizens in the immediate area of the blaze."
Authorities also evacuated residents from Bonita Vista, Pine Springs and the U.S. Forest Service Campgrounds, and had closed off part of the Pacific Coast Trail as well as parts of several highways in the area.
"Every possible effort is being taken to slow the fire and prepare to halt its progress," the forest service said in the evacuation order. "Firefighters continue to fight the fire on the ground and with helicopters and fixed wing aircraft."
Nearly 3,000 firefighters and hundreds of engines and aircraft have responded to fight the fire, and the forest service said that more crews may attempt to stop the fires in advance from the west.
A resident of Mountain Center, one of the areas that was evacuated, told ABC News that some of her property was damaged, but her house is still standing. "My daughter got burned out," said Susan Paul. Her daughter's mobile home, which sits on her property, was completely destroyed, along with all her possessions.
"This, this is hard," Paul told ABC. "There's not anything people can do about it, so you just have to sit and look at it."