Thousands of acres ablaze in California for 2nd time in recent weeks

Story highlights

  • Governor delclares a state of emergency in Riverside County
  • The current blaze has consumed at least 16,000 acres
  • Official: 'One of the most quickly spreading, rapidly spreading, dangerous fires'
  • Weather forecast calls for dry, high heat and steady winds
Thousands of acres of a Southern California forest are going up in flames for the second time in less than three weeks.
Together, the two blazes have scorched a large hole out of the wooded mountains near Palm Springs.
More than 1,400 firefighters are struggling to contain the current ongoing wildfire as a steady wind blows it toward the east.
"You can imagine, on the side of the hill with the rocks and the terrain, how hard it would be, with 40 pounds on your back, trying to put in a hose or cutting lines with hand tools," Lucas Spelman of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection told CNN affiliate KTLA.
The blaze has scorched more than 16,000 acres, or 25 square miles, and is 25% contained, fire officials said Friday.
"This fire ... was one of the most quickly spreading, rapidly spreading, dangerous fires I've ever seen," Riverside Fire Chief John Hawkins told KTLA.
California Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday declared a state of emergency in Riverside County, authorizing the help of all state agencies in fighting the blaze.
The weather forecast in the drought-stricken area offers no hope.
The sun will blaze through dry, clear skies, the National Weather Service says.
It will push high temperatures to near 100 degrees, keeping the forest flammable, while crews try to douse raging flames with the help of 169 engines, eight helicopters, 16 bulldozers and 13 water trucks.
One civilian and five firefighters have been injured, California Fire reported. The cause is still under investigation.
Flames have consumed 26 homes and one business. About 1,500 people have fled from their path and seven communities have been ordered to evacuate, fire officials said.
Evacuation centers have been set up at area high schools.
"It's heart-wrenching. It's very heart-wrenching," Joanne Trosper told CNN affiliate KTLA, after watching the fire consume some of her neighbors' homes in Poppet Flats. "Anytime the fire comes, it's bad memories, but this is the worst one yet."
July's wildfire, just a few miles away, was even worse.
It devoured more than 27,000 acres and 6,000 people were ordered to evacuate, before 3,400 firefighters could get the flames under control.
Luckily, rain came to their aid.