Valley News -

Officials revise size of Tenaja fire, 1,926 acres charred with 90% containment

Evacuations downgraded to warnings,MVUSD closes schools for second day

 

Last updated 9/9/2019 at 8:15am

UPDATE: Sept. 9, 8 a.m.

The 1,926 acre Tenaja Fire is now at 90% containment and has once again been downgraded in size, fire officals reported this morning. The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

UPDATE: Sept. 8, 9 a.m.

The Tenaja Fire near Murrieta, now 56% contained burned about 60 less acres than originally reported, according to officials, who expect full containmaent by Tuesday.

The fire's size was revised downward Saturday due to better mapping, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

The Tenaja'' blaze was reported at 3:55 p.m. Wednesday in the area of Clinton Keith and Tenaja roads in the unincorporated community of La Cresta, fire officials said.

All evacuation orders and warnings affecting hundreds of homes are now lifted and Clinton Keith Road, a primary north-south route through La Cresta, was reopened at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, after being out of service between Chantory Street to Avenida La Cresta since the fire ignited. All other roads in the area were open, though fire officials warned that further closures were possible as work

on the fire continued.

Nearly 840 firefighters from Riverside County, Cal Fire, Murrieta Fire and Rescue, the Hemet Fire Department, Corona Fire Department, the Orange County Fire Authority and U.S. Forest Service battled the blaze. Three firefighters suffered non-life threatening injuries, officials said.

Two homes sustained minor damage, according Cal Fire Division Chief Todd Hopkins, and another 1,200 homes were threatened at the height of the fire.

"Crews have been doing an excellent job getting into difficult areas and stopping the flames before they damage structures," Hopkins said.

Murrieta Police Chief Sean Hadden said 570 properties were evacuated at one point and all schools in the Murrieta Valley, Lake Elsinore, Menifee Union and Romoland Unified school districts were closed because of the impact of the fire. Classes were scheduled to resume on Monday.

The Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve and Sylvan Meadows were expected to be closed for some time and all trails were closed due to safety hazards from the fire, officials said.

Power lines were reported down at the location.

The Riverside County Department of Public Health issued an air quality advisory, warning residents north and east of the Tenaja blaze that fire debris could have negative health impacts.

The American Red Cross announced Friday that it had closed the shelter it was operating at Murrieta Mesa High School.

Anyone affected by the fire in need of Red Cross assistance was urged to call (855) 243-3815.

For photos from the Tenaja Fire, visit https://valleynews.smugmug.com/2019-Sept-5-Wildfire-in-La-Cresta/

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

UPDATE: Sept. 7, 8 a.m.

All evacuations orders have been lifted for the Tenaja Fire, which is now at 25% containment.

Clinton Keith Road remains closed though CHP is doing escorts in both directions as fire behavior and equipment movement allows.

There is no other new information at this time.

For photos from the Tenaja Fire, visit https://valleynews.smugmug.com/2019-Sept-5-Wildfire-in-La-Cresta/

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

UPDATE: Sept. 6, 12:15 p.m.

All schools in the Murrieta Valley and Lake Elsinore Unified school districts, Menifee Union and Romoland school districts will be closed today.

Murrieta Valley and Lake Elsinore district officials cited the impact the fire was having on students and staff as the reason for the closure. Menifee Unified and Romoland officials said poor air quality was the reason schools would be closed.

For photos from the Tenaja Fire, visit https://valleynews.smugmug.com/2019-Sept-5-Wildfire-in-La-Cresta/

UPDATE: Sept. 6, 11:30 a.m.

Mandatory evacuation orders for communities in and around Murrieta and La Cresta due to the Tenaja Fire were downgraded to voluntary evacuation warnings in the morning of Friday, Sept. 6.

"Residents in affected areas must remain vigilant and prepared," according to a statement by Cal Fire Riverside County Fire Department. "Clinton Keith Road remains closed. Please access La Cresta via Los Gatos Road."

Murrieta Police Department announced they would be overseeing the repopulation of the affected evacuation areas.

"Remember, use caution, fire resources are still working in the area," warned the Riverside Emergency Management Department in a post on Twitter.

Murrieta Fire & Rescue reminded residents that warnings could again become orders if the fire turns again.

"These evacuation warning can be changed back to an evacuation order at any time depending on fire containment throughout the day," according MFR's post on Facebook. "Please monitor updates and be ready to evacuate again if needed."

Cal Fire also reported that firefighters were able to increase containment overnight, doubling their grip to 20% on the fire that they estimated to have burned almost 2,000 acres.

For more information regarding repopulation, fire safety and resources available to affected homeowners, call (951) 940-6985.

UPDATE: Sept. 5, 10 p.m..

In the 9:45 p.m. update issued by Cal Fire Riverside County Fire Department, the Tenaja Fire is currently at 2,000 acres and 10% containment.

The road closure at Los Gatos Road and Via Volcano has been lifted. Those driving through the area are asked to do so with caution as fire personnel continue to work in the area.

Cal Fire Riverside County Fire Department will issue the next update tomorrow morning after 9 a.m.

The road closure at Clinton Keith remains in effect from Chantory Street to Avenida La Cresta.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

UPDATE: Sept. 5, 6:30 p.m.

Officials from Cal Fire Riverside County Fire Department, Murrieta Fire & Rescue (MFR) and Murrieta Police Department held a press conference at 6 p.m. regarding the Tenaja Fire, which has been burning in the hills of Murrieta and La Cresta since Wednesday afternoon.

Cal Fire Division Chief Todd Hopkins updated the acreage of the fire to 1,974 acres and said that firefighters had 10% containment. He reported that two structures have suffered minor damage, but the agency refused to indicate whether they were homes or outbuildings.

"We have a difficult terrain to access the fire," Hopkins said. "Winds will come out of one direction in the morning wind blowing out toward the ocean and by the afternoon we'll get a 180-degree switch. That's what we've seen for the past two days."

Hopkins said firefighters call it the "Elsinore Effect."

Hopkins said they expect similar weather conditions tomorrow.

Murrieta Fire & Rescue Chief David Lantzer thanked city staff for 24-hour support and lauded the efforts of Cal Fire, MFR, and Murrieta Police for an effective unified command.

"They've done an enormous job," Lantzer said.

Murrieta Police Chief Sean Hadden asked people to stay out of the area and said they have evacuated 570 homes during the operation and 141 have decided to stay in place.

"We understand residents want to get back into their homes," Hadden said. "But now is not the time, because it's still a very dangerous situation. As soon as we can allow residents back into their homes, we'll do that."

Hadden responded to a question whether they had any reports of looting in the area saying, "We've had no reports of that. We have numerous deputies and officers assigned to the area, so residents can be pretty sure their houses are safe."

Also late Thursday, the Perris Union High School District opted to close schools as a result of the fire. PUHSD oversees schools in Menifee as well.

"Tomorrow's air quality forecast from the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) calls for unhealthy conditions in the Perris Valley as a result of the Tenaja Fire burning near Murrieta," the district announced on its Facebook page. "All Perris Union High School District schools will be closed on Friday, Sept. 6. PUHSD staff may stay home from work as well."

The district also announced that home football games scheduled for Paloma Valley, Heritage and Perris high schools will be played as scheduled, but will be held at the location of their opponent. Heritage High School will play at Cajon High School, Paloma Valley will play King High School, and Perris High School will play at Beaumont High School.

UPDATE: Sept. 5, 4:30 p.m.

Murrieta Valley Unified School District has announced the closure of all district schools Friday, Sept. 6 due to the Tenaja Fire which continues to burn with only 7% containment. As of the most recent Cal Fire Riverside County Fire Department update, the blaze, which broke out shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4, had charred 2,000 acres.

"Our top priority is the safety of students and staff. Hence, we continue to monitor the fires and work collaboratively with our first responders and emergency personnel to keep you informed," the district announced in an email to parents earlier this afternoon. "After consultation with Murrieta Fire and Rescue, City of Murrieta, Cal Fire and Riverside County Emergency Services, all MVUSD schools and facilities will close tomorrow, Friday, September 6."

All preschool and extra-curricular activities scheduled to take place, including high school football games, have been canceled.

Schools will re-open on Monday, September 9.

In other Tenaja Fire news, all evacuations and road closures remain in place.

Current evacuations include Montanya Place, Botanica Place, Belcara Place and Lone Oak Way in the city of Murrieta.

All evacuation orders remain in place including orders issued Wednesday for residents in Copper Canyon South of Calle del Oso Oro between Clinton Keith and Murrieta Creek.

A care and reception center has been set up at Murrieta Mesa High School, 24801 Monroe Avenue. Small animals are being accepted at the care and reception center, located at Murrieta Mesa HS. Large Animals can be taken to the San Jacinto Animal Shelter 581 S. Grand Ave. San Jacinto, CA 92582. Horse trailers can be taken to the Los Alamos Sports Park. There is a mandatory evacuation order for all residences along The Trails Circle, in La Cresta and for the Santa Rosa Plateau Visitor Center located at 39400 Clinton Keith Road.

As of the most recent update issued by Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department, the fire remains at 7% containment and 1,400 acres charred.

Road closures remain in place at Clinton Keith south of Avenida La Cresta, Avenida La Cresta South, Tenaja Road and Via Volcano.

South Coast Air Quality Management District has issued a smoke advisory expected to continue through at least Friday. Precautions that should be taken include avoiding any vigorous outdoor or indoor exertion. Those with respiratory or heart disease, older adults, and children should remain indoors.

Other precautions include keeping windows and doors closed along with running air conditioners with the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent bringing additional smoke inside.

Swamp coolers and whole-house fans can bring additional smoke inside and should not be used. Outdoor and indoor wood burning, including fireplaces should not be used.

During this incident, Riverside County Emergency Management Department may use Alert RivCo, a notification system designed to alert and warn residents and businesses of Riverside County in the event of emergencies such as wildfires, floods, hazardous materials, severe weather, and certain law enforcement incidents. To sign-up to receive alerts, please visit, http://www.RivCoReady.org.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

UPDATE: Sept. 5, 3:05 p.m.

The Tenaja Fire has grown to 2,000 acres and remains at 7% containment, according to a 2:56 p.m. update issued by Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department.

All evacuation orders and road closures remain in place.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

UPDATE: Sept. 5, 2:38 p.m.

At 2:05 p.m. more madatory evacuation orders were issued for several streets in the vicinity of the the Tenaja fire.

Areas under evacuations now include Montanya Place, Botanica Place, Belcara Place and Lone Oak Way in the city of Murrieta.

All evacuation orders remain in place including orders issued Wednesday for residents in Copper Canyon South of Calle del Oso Oro between Clinton Keith and Murrieta Creek.

A care and reception center has been set up at Murrieta Mesa High School, 24801 Monroe Avenue. Small animals are being accepted at the care and reception center, located at Murrieta Mesa HS. Large Animals can be taken to the San Jacinto Animal Shelter 581 S. Grand Ave. San Jacinto, CA 92582. Horse trailers can be taken to the Los Alamos Sports Park. There is a mandatory evacuation order for all residences along The Trails Circle, in La Cresta and for the Santa Rosa Plateau Visitor Center located at 39400 Clinton Keith Road.

As of the most recent update issued by Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department the fire remains at 7% containment and 1,400 acres charred.

Road closures remain in place at Clinton Keith south of Avenida La Cresta, Avenida La Cresta South, Tenaja Road and Via Volcano.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

UPDATE: Sept. 5, 6:45 a.m.

The Tenaja Fire has charred 1,400 acres and a of the 6:20 a.m. update is 7% contained, Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department officals said.

All mandatory evacuation orders remain in place and firefighters remain on scene in strength as they work to fully contain and control the fire.

According to Ginger Graeves, executive director of the Santa Rosa Plateau Nature Education Foundation, though the fire came close, the Santa Rosa Plateau's Visitor's Center remains undamaged from the blaze.

"The stage behind the visitor center was burnt but the visitor center is safe and it will be closed until further notice," she said. "It appears the fire around the visitor center and that area and Clinton Keith is is is not burning at this time."

The South Coast Air Quality Management District has issued an air quality advisory for the area surrounding the fire.

"Light winds from the north are expected to continue through Thursday morning, which may transport smoke into the Temecula and Capistrano Valleys and into San Diego County. Strong winds from the southwest are expected on Thursday around noon. If the Tenaja Fire continues to generate smoke on Thursday afternoon, smoke may again impact the Inland Empire," the SCAQMD press release said.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

UPDATE: Sept. 4, 11:45 p.m.

As the Tenaja Fire continues to burn in LaCresta with only 5% containment, Riverside County Health Officials are urging residents in parts of southwest Riverside County to limit outdoor activities due to the smoke and ash from the blaze.

"Many residents in southwest Riverside County neighborhoods may find driveways and homes covered in white ash that may fall onto cars, settled into pools and onto sidewalks," a press release issued by Riverside County Public Health's Public Information Officer Jose Arballo Jr., said.

"Ash and smoke can be hard on anyone to breathe, but especially those with lung disease," said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County public health officer. "Everyone worries about the flames, but smoke can impact you even if you're miles away from the fire."

The smoke and ash advisory was issued by Kaiser for portions of Southwest Riverside County, including Murrieta, Temecula and Lake Elsinore areas.

Precautions that should be taken include avoiding any vigorous outdoor or indoor exertion. Those with respiratory or heart disease, older adults, and children should remain indoors.

Other precautions include keeping windows and doors closed along with running air conditioners with the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent bringing additional smoke inside.

Swamp coolers and whole-house fans can bring additional smoke inside and should not be used. Outdoor and indoor wood burning, including fireplaces should not be used.

In other fire news, mandatory evacuations remain in place for residents in Copper Canyon South of Calle del Oso Oro between Clinton Keith and Murrieta Creek at Calle del Oso Oro, all residences along The Trails Circle, in La Cresta and the Santa Rosa Plateau Visitor Center located at 39400 Clinton Keith Road.

A care and reception center has been set up at Murrieta Mesa High School, 24801 Monroe Avenue. Small animals are being accepted at the care and reception center, located at Murrieta Mesa HS. Large Animals can be taken to the San Jacinto Animal Shelter 581 S. Grand Ave. San Jacinto, CA 92582. Horse trailers can be taken to the Los Alamos Sports Park.

Murrieta Valley Unified School District has cancelled all classes for Thursday, Sept. 5 due to the fire.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

UPDATE: Sept. 4, 10 p.m.

Fire officials issued new mandatory evacuation orders for residents in Murrieta's Copper Canyon south of Calle del Oso Oro between Clinton Keith and Murrieta Creek at Calle del Oso Oro.

Murrieta Valley Unified School District announced that all schools would be closed on Thursday, Sept. 5 due to the fire.

"This measure was taken in consideration for the safety and well-being of our students, staff and their families," the district wrote in a post on its Facebook page. "In addition, with the number of mandatory and voluntary evacuations in place and road closures in the area of the fire, we anticipate students, staff and teachers would have difficulty getting to school sites tomorrow.

"It is difficult for first responder professionals to predict fire and air quality for tomorrow. Nevertheless, our top priority is the health and safety of our school community and the need to make this determination in a timely manner."

Temecula Valley Unified School District schools will be open, according to a post on the district's Facebook page late Wednesday night.

"We will evaluate the air quality conditions in the morning to determine outdoor activities and potential limits as a result of the surrounding area fire," the post read.

UPDATE: Sept. 4, 9 p.m.

Cal Fire Riverside County officials said the Tenaja Fire burning in La Cresta has grown to 994 acres by 8:45 p.m. No further information was available.

Evacuation warnings have been issued for the Bear Creek and Copper Canyon communities.

UPDATE: Sept. 4, 7:45 p.m.

Cal Fire Riverside County officials said that the fire burning in La Crest has now consumed 250 acres and firefighters can claim 5% containment.

There were no reports of structures being threatened or having been destroyed.

UPDATE: Sept. 4, 6:45 p.m.

The La Cresta fire was reported by Cal Fire Riverside County to have spread to 150 acres with no containment as of 6:30 p.m. In addition to a road closure on Clinton Keith Road south of Avenida La Cresta, Tenaja Road was closed in both directions, and the Santa Rosa Plateau Visitor Center is under evacuation orders since 5 p.m.

At 6 p.m. mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for all residences along The Trails Circle in La Cresta.

According to Cal Fire, more than 270 fire personnel, six air tankers, and three helicopters were fighting the fire.

Officials also reported that a care and reception location has been established at Murrieta Mesa High School at 24801 Monroe Avenue in Murrieta. Small animals are being accepted at the care and reception center, but large animals should be taken to the San Jacinto Animal Shelter, 581 S. Grand Avenue in San Jacinto.

Residents affected by the fire can contact the fire information line at (951) 940-6985.

Original Story

MURRIETA - A brush fire that was possibly triggered by lightning erupted on Wednesday, Sept. 4 in La Cresta, just west of Murrieta, blackening 25 acres in 30 minutes.

The non-injury blaze was reported about 3:55 p.m. in the area of Clinton Keith and Tenaja roads, in the unincorporated community of La Cresta, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

The agency sent 19 engine crews and four hand crews, numbering more than 100 personnel, to the location. They encountered flames in heavy vegetation, spreading quickly to the northeast, and erratic winds.

No homes were immediately threatened by the brusher, on which four Cal Fire air tankers and a water-dropping helicopter were making runs.

A thunderstorm cell moved through the area just prior to the fire, and it's suspected a lightning strike ignited it.

Power lines were also reported down at the location.

Kim Harris and Jeff Pack contributed to this report.

This is a breaking news story that will be updated when information becomes available.

 

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