Evacuation notices were issued for hundreds of homes Wednesday evening as a 14,000-acre wildfire continued to rage out of control in steep, rugged terrain in the San Bernardino National Forest.
The mountain fire prompted officials to issue evacuation notices for Idyllwild, Fern Valley and adjacent communities, the U.S. Forest Service said. Earlier, evacuation orders had been issued for areas including Apple Canyon and the Andreas Canyon Club area south of Palm Springs.
The massive blaze has spewed large amounts of smoke and ash, prompting the South Coast Air Quality Management District to issue a smoke advisory for areas including Hemet, San Jacinto Valley, Banning Pass, Anza and the Coachella Valley.
Fire crews have been able to save a number of structures threatened by the flames, but the blaze has destroyed at least 20 dwellings, including mobile homes, residences and a commercial building, according to fire officials. At least half a dozen vehicles have also been consumed by flames.
On Wednesday evening, more than 2,200 firefighters were battling the blaze as walls of flame burned rapidly through timber and dry chaparral. Crews on the ground were being aided by 16 water-dropping helicopters and 10 air tankers that drop fire retardant, the Forest Service said.
Agency officials said the battle to control the blaze, which was 10% contained, has been complicated by temperatures in the high 90s and relative humidity as low as 5%. The fire broke out Monday afternoon near Highways 174 and 74. The cause was under investigation.