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Banning Fire Burns 3,000 Acres, Destroys 1 Home

BANNING, Calif. — Firefighters in Riverside County were gaining ground in their battle against the 3,000-acre Summit Fire burning in Banning.

banning-fire

The fire broke out around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday near North San Gorgonio Avenue and Summit Drive.

As of Friday evening, the blaze was 75 percent contained.

About 400 firefighters from multiple agencies were still assigned to the blaze.

Resources will remain on scene throughout the day as they continue improving containment lines and patrolling the area for any hot sports or flare ups.

The Summit Fire destroyed at least one home, and two firefighters suffered minor injuries.

All evacuation orders have been lifted. At least 500 people had been evacuated from the Highland Springs Mobile Home Park and other areas that were threatened by flames.

Several horses were also evacuated, the Riverside County Department of Animal Services said.

The fire destroyed at least one home, belonging to Joe Kiener, who told KTLA he was “just trying to pick up the pieces and keep on going.”

He said he lost everything “except for the clothes on my back and my dog.”

The fire erupted on a day when officials issued a red flag warning for critical fire danger due to high winds, warm weather and low relative humidity.

A red flag warning remains in effect till 6 p.m. Friday due to low humidity and gusty winds.

Residents are urged to exercise caution when driving through the fire area, including yielding to fire apparatus and obeying road closure barriers where posted.

Federal officials warned Wednesday that a relatively dry winter coupled with warm summer weather could make for a devastating fire season.

“Significant fire potential will be above normal” for Southern California and other areas of the West, the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, said in its first outlook report for the 2013 fire season.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has responded to more than 680 wildfires this year, more than 200 over the average for the period, the agency said.

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