A fast-spreading brush fire in the San Jacinto Mountains sent heavy clouds of smoke over Idyllwild on Wednesday, prompting air quality warnings for portions of Riverside County.
South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory for Perris Valley, Anza, Hemet, San Jacinto Valley, Banning Pass and Coachella Valley as the Cranston Fire burned within the San Bernardino National Forest.
The blaze started around noon off Highway 74 between Hemet and Mountain Center, officials said. By 6 p.m., it had exploded to 3,000 acres with 0 percent containment.
Authorities issued mandatory evacuation orders for Idyllwild, Pine Cove and Fern Valley and shut down Highway 74 between Mountain Center and the Cranston Fire Station near Hemet.
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“Winds will be from the west/southwest this afternoon before transitioning to a light northerly wind during the evening and overnight hours,” SCAQMD said.
The air quality could potentially reach unhealthy levels in areas affected by smoke, the agency warned, urging residents to stay indoors with windows and doors closed.
SCAQMD also advised against physical activity. More tips can be found on the agency’s website.
Light winds were blowing 5 to 10 mph in the area on Wednesday afternoon, while temperatures were forecast to reach the mid-to-upper 90s, according to the National Weather Service.