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Saturday, September 21, 2019 9:02 AM PDT

Tenaja Fire burning near Murrieta, La Cresta communities Wednesday

By Reginald Stanley. Posted September 4, 2019, 10:14 PM.



Shortly before 4 PM Wednesday afternoon, a wildfire broke out on the Santa Rosa Plateau near the intersection of Clinton Keith Road and Tenaja Road. The fire was quickly driven eastward by locally strong winds at the time, fueled by dense, dry vegetation. The fire caused dense smoke to darken the sky above the area Wednesday afternoon. Nearly 300 firefighters are currently battling the blaze.

The fire is threatening homes in the nearby La Cresta community, northwest of the Santa Rosa Plateau. The fire's quick race to the east has also threatened homes in Murrieta's northwestern communities near Washington Street, and Bear Creek. The Santa Rosa Plateau Visitor Center and The Trails Circle part of La Cresta are under mandatory evacuation Wednesday evening, and as of 10 PM Wednesday night, the Copper Canyon area in west Murrieta has been placed under mandatory evacuation as well. The nearby Bear Creek community has been placed under evacuation warning. According to CalFire, the Tenaja Fire has burned through at least 994 acres as of 9 PM and was 5 percent contained. The Riverside County Fire Department reports that an evacuation center has been established at Murrieta Mesa High School, where small animals are also being accepted.

The fire is suspected to have been ignited by a lightning strike from a thunderstorm that passed through the area shortly before the fire was reported, although the cause remains under investigation. A power outage, affecting at least 1,000 Southern California Edison customers in the area, has also been reported, however it is not currently known whether the outage is directly linked to the Tenaja Fire.

For more updates and evacuation details, please visit the Riverside County Fire Department webpage.

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