A brush fire that tore through about 3,000 acres in Banning, Calif., is about 40 percent contained as of Thursday morning. But high winds expected later Thursday and into Friday morning may impede firefighters’ progress.
The Banning brush fire broke out Wednesday night and damaged 2,956 acres, the San Bernardino Sun reported.
Firefighters had improved the containment of the fire by 5 percent, with Riverside County Fire Department spokeswoman Jody Hagemann saying that the blaze was 35 percent contained on Wednesday night and 40 percent contained as of Thursday morning.
The fire erupted in medium brush and damaged “at least one structure,” Hagemann told Fox 11.
As 425 firefighters from several California localities tried to contain the 3,000-acre blaze, they were assisted by aircraft that unleashed red fire retardant from the sky.
Two firefighters sustained minor injuries while battling the blaze, and one Banning home on Mesa Street was destroyed by the fire, according to Fox 11.
James Kiener, the 53-year-old homeowner of the house that was destroyed, said he escaped before the flames spread to his house, saving himself and his dog.
"It's a total loss," the Banning resident said. "It really hasn't hit me yet. But it hurts me to lose the house."
The fire prompted evacuations of some 500 Banning residents from their homes Wednesday, but were allowed to go back to their properties Wednesday night, according to the Sun.
Mesa Street remains closed, as well as nearby Gilman Street.
The prospects of firefighters increasing their progress to contain the blaze may be hampered by high winds that are expected to reach the area Thursday.
The Banning area may see winds as high as 30 mph with 60 mph gusts, according to the National Weather Service.
“These moderate to strong winds will combine with … very dry and hot conditions to elevate the fire danger throughout the day,” the weather service said in its Red Flag Warning for the area. The warning, for a large swath of Southern California, includes Orange County, the mountains in Riverside, San Diego and San Bernardino counties and parts of the San Bernardino National Forest.
“Very poor overnight recoveries this morning in the mountains and deserts will not improve today as relative humidities remain or fall back into the single digits,” the NWS Red Flag Warning stated. “These very dry conditions will persist into Friday as well along with hot conditions developing west of the mountains.”