RIVERSIDE COUNTY – Neighborhoods are evacuated and schools are closed as the Tenaja Fire in Murrieta, CA grows to over 2,000-acres with 7 percent containment Thursday afternoon.
Firefighters responded to reports of a brush fire around 4:00 p.m. Wednesday near the Santa Rosa Plateau, an ecological reserve popular with hikers, horseback riders and cyclists. A thunderstorm just rolled through the area before the fire and officials believe lightening may have ignited the fire.
The community of La Cresta with estate size homes and horse ranches near the reserve was the first community threatened by the flames. Firefighters struggled to contain the blaze communities at the base of the mountain were threatened.
Initially 130 firefighters were called to the scene with a helicopter and air tanker. Many residents were also without power according to Southern California Edison.
Cal Fire Capt. Fernando Herrera said as night fell the number of firefighters swelled to 509 on the ground. Cal Fire at the time of this report is receiving assistance from the San Bernardino National Forest Strike Team, firefighters from the Cleveland National Forest, six air tankers and three helicopters. The Riverside County Fire Department reported to the California Globe Thursday morning that three helicopters, 87 engines, six air tankers, four bulldozers and 12 fire crews were on site.
The Historic Adobes that have been around for close to 165 years have a dedicated fire crew to protect the structures. There is also a 500-year old oak tree that continues to produce seeds in front of the adobe house that remains intact.
A smoke advisory was issued by the Murrieta Fire Department Wednesday as a large plume of smoke could be seen for miles around the valley. Wednesday night school officials in the Murrieta Valley Unified School District and Lake Elsinore Unified School District announced they would be closed on Thursday, Sept.5.
“After consulting with the Murrieta Fire and Rescue, Cal Fire, Murrieta Police and the City of Murrieta, all schools will be closed in the district,” wrote the Murrieta Police Department.
“This measure was taken into consideration for the safety and well being of our students, staff and their families. In addition with the number of evacuations in place, and road closures in the area of this fire, we anticipated it would difficult to get to school sites.”
The concern in air quality for surrounding school districts like Temecula Valley Unified School District may cause outdoor school activities to be canceled or moved indoors according to a press release from the district.
The weather on Thursday according to the National Weather Service is expected to be hot and humid which is favorable for fighting fires.
The Red Cross has set up at the Murrieta Mesa High School with a care and reception center set up for families and small animals. The school is located at 24801 Monroe Avenue. Large animals can be taken to the San Jacinto Animal Shelter at 581 S. Grand Ave. in San Jacinto.
Animal Friends of the Valley, which is located at 33751 Mission Trail in Wildomar, will accept small animals.
RV spaces are available at Rancho Jurupa Park and Lake Skinner Park for evacuated residents.
Another update to the Teneja Fire is expected to be released Thursday evening.
Link to Fire Incident Report
Link to Evacuation Explanations