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Silver fire: Firefighters make headway, but more evacuations ordered

Firefighters battling the raging Silver fire in Riverside County hit 10% containment Thursday morning, even as officials called for additional evacuations.

Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said fire crews were able to gain ground as winds pushed the fire line east of Banning and toward Cabazon.

Meanwhile, Berlant said, two additional firefighters suffered “minor to moderate” injuries while battling the wind-driven blaze, bringing the total number of injured crew members to four.

The fire has so far burned through 10,000 acres and damaged or destroyed at least 15 structures, although officials could not confirm how many of those were homes.

The condition of a civilian who suffered serious burns as the fire spread out of control Wednesday could not be confirmed.

Jeff Larusso with the Riverside County Fire Department did not identify the victim or elaborate on the extent of injuries, saying only that they occurred “early on” in the fire. The burn victim was airlifted to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, he added.

The Silver fire broke out around 2 p.m. Wednesday and soon exploded into an uncontrolled blaze that moved quickly around Banning, sending more than 1,500 residents in mandatory evacuation zones fleeing.

Some of them were forced to "shelter in place" after the fire cut off exit paths.

Mandatory evacuation orders remain in place for Vista Grande, Mt. Edna, Poppet Flats, Silent Valley, Twin Pines and portions of Cabazon. Evacuations were extended Thursday morning to Black Mountain and nearby campgrounds.

California 243 near Poppet Flats also remains closed.

Berlant said fire incident commanders would continue to monitor the movement of the blaze to determine if more evacuation orders should be given.

Meanwhile, officials said they were focusing firefighting efforts -- including a heavy air attack -- on keeping the fire line away from more dense forest areas where there would be more fuel to burn.

“Basically, our priority today is keeping [the fire] off San Bernardino National Forest,” Larusso  said. “As of right now, we’re not into the heavy dense fuels, we’re not seeing the type of timber fuels that burn hotter.”


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