Updated Sep 6, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Deadly California wildfire forces evacuations as it explodes in size

A photo of the Mill Fire that's killed at least 2 people in California as of Monday evening.
Fairview Fire near Hemet, California, on Monday. Source: Cal Fire's Twitter feed

The rapidly growing Fairview Fire near Hemet, California, killed at least two people and wounded another during the historic heat wave that's engulfing much of the West, per Cal Fire.

By the numbers: The wildfire grew by 500 acres one hour after igniting some 80 miles east of Los Angeles on Monday afternoon, according to Cal Fire. By late Monday, it had grown to 2,000 acres and was 5% contained, the Riverside County Fire Department tweeted.

  • Riverside County officials issued evacuation orders for some 5,000 homes , per Cal Fire.
  • The fire has destroyed at least seven buildings and damaged several others

The big picture: Firefighters are tackling 53 large fires across the U.S., according to the latest information from the National Interagency Fire Center.

  • Two people were killed in the Mill Fire over the weekend as it tore through the rural Northern California community of Weed.
  • That fire in Siskiyou County, near the Oregon border, has burned nearly 11,500 acres and was 20% contained on Monday evening, per Cal Fire.

In Oregon, the Double Creek Fire near the remote community of Imnaha in Hells Canyon Recreation Area that forced campers to evacuate over the weekend has razed almost 43,700 acres and was 0% contained as of Monday, according to local officials.

Threat level: There's an elevated risk of fire weather over parts of Northeastern California, the Pacific Northwest, and the Great Basin from Tuesday through Wednesday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

  • "As a result, the fire weather threat has prompted Red Flag Warnings over parts of the region," the NWS said.
  • There's also an elevated risk of fire weather over parts of the Northern High Plains and also over parts of the Northern Intermountain Region through Tuesday morning.

Context: Studies show climate change is making extreme heat events like this one more common and intense, while research has found it's a key driver in wildfire risk.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper