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Fast-moving Snow fire, sparked by burning car, prompts evacuations near Palm Springs

Elias Lomeli of Desert Hot Springs watches firefighting helicopters refill with water from his car's sunroof.
Elias Lomeli of Desert Hot Springs watches firefighting helicopters refill with water from his car’s sunroof as the Snow fire burns in the background off Interstate 10 in WhitewaterFriday.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

A fast-moving, uncontained fire prompted evacuations near Palm Springs after more than doubling in size overnight, authorities said.

The blaze, dubbed the Snow fire, was reported shortly after 2:30 p.m. Thursday in the Snow Creek community west of Palm Springs, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

At 7:30 p.m., the fire had ballooned to 1,200 acres , officials said. By Friday morning, it had grown to 2,500 acres and was still 0% contained.

“It was a vehicle that caught on fire, and obviously, it started the vegetation on fire,” Fire Capt. Fernando Herrera said of the cause. “And that’s how we ended up with this.”

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Officials have ordered the evacuation of the entire Snow Creek area — north of Cottonwood Road, southeast of Snowcreek Canyon Road and west of Falls Creek. About 30 homes are affected by the order, according to Herrera.

A firefighting plane drops retardant on the eastern flank of the Snow fire.
A firefighting plane drops retardant on the eastern flank of the Snow fire as it burns in the canyons to the south of Interstate 10 Friday.
(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

The fire also poses a potential threat to the Windy Point community, which is under an evacuation warning. More than 400 homes are covered by that warning, which has been issued for areas south and north of Overture Drive, east of Clearwater Way and west of Highway 111.

A temporary evacuation point was set up at 50390 Carmen Ave. in Cabazon, according to fire officials.

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“The fire made a very strong push last night” into Snow Creek, Herrera said, but firefighters were able to hold the flames at bay.

“Our firefighters obviously did a great job and held the fire from progressing into the homes,” he said.

Though no residences were damaged, Herrera said the fire is threatening high-tension power lines in the area.

Throughout the day, crews will be challenged by 100-plus-degree temperatures and winds that could gust to between 20 mph and 30 mph — typical conditions for the area.

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“This morning we’ve already had some significant wind that started flaring up the fire,” Herrera said.


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