California wildfire seen spreading rapidly and burning across 6,000 acres in Riverside County in new video footage


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The Independent US

An out-of-control wildfire growing rapidly in the Southern California mountains has burned homes, forced the evacuation of several mountain communities and left three people, including two firefighters injured.

The fire broke out at approximately 2pm near Banning, California and had spread 6,000 acres within a couple of hours.

At least 1,500 people have had to be evacuated as more than 500 firefighters continue the rescue operation to protect homes and extinguish the flames.

The wildfire of more than nine square miles (23 sq kms) raged out of control in the San Jacinto Mountains, said Lucas Spelman, of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Two firefighters and a burned civilian were the ones injured, state fire officials said.

Fire officials said about a dozen structures were damaged or destroyed, but could not say how many were homes. Footage from TV news helicopters and photos from the scene showed several houses in flames.

Margaret Runnels of Poppet Flats was at work when her house came under an evacuation order. She was in Banning waiting as her husband collected pets and valuables from their property.

“I was hoping they would let me back up to get some personal items I knew my husband would forget like a jewelry box and stuff that means stuff,” Ms Runnels told the Desert Sun. “You always tell yourself to prepare everything but you never take the stupid time to do it.”

Additional reporting by Associated Press