Firefighters in Riverside County are struggling to make progress in their battle against a Santa Ana wind-fueled wildfire that has forced thousands of people from their homes.

The Highland Fire in Aguanga, a sparsely populated area east of Temecula, had consumed at least 2,487 acres of dry brush and trees and three structures as of Tuesday evening. According to a Cal Fire update, the blaze was 10% contained.

Another six structures have been damaged.

The fire erupted just after noon on Monday near Highlands and Aguanga Ranchos roads and spread rapidly in the hot and dry desert winds.

  • Highland Fire
  • Highland Fire
  • Wildfire torches structures in Riverside County; thousands evacuated
  • Wildfire torches structures in Riverside County; thousands evacuated
  • Highlands Fire
  • Highland Fire
  • Highland Fire

“Our struggle right now is the winds are continuing,” Cal Fire Captain Thomas Shoots said. “We know these winds are going to continue through Thursday and we have a ton of open line. We don’t have any [areas] where the fire can’t spread.”

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

Approximately 1,300 homes have been evacuated in the following areas:

  • South of Sage Road and Golden Creek 
  • East of Becker Lane 
  • West of Boulder Vista 
  • North of Cottonwood Creek 
  • South of Highway 371
  • West of Soreson and north of County Line Road

Other nearby residents are urged to be on standby to evacuate.

Highland Fire Evacuations
Evacuations orders (red) and warnings (yellow) for the Highland Fire in Riverside County, California. Oct. 31, 2023. (Cal Fire)

A care and reception center has been set up at Great Oak High School, located at 32555 Deer Hollow Way in Temecula. Residents evacuating large animals can take them to the San Jacinto Animal Shelter, located at 581 S. Grand Avenue in San Jacinto.