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A wildfire ignited on Wednesday afternoon in Riverside County, Calif., and has since blazed completely out of control, destroying dozens of homes and structures and sparking fast-paced evacuations of communities in the vicinity.
According to the most recent report from Cal Fire, which was issued at 6:30 p.m. PST, the inferno has been dubbed the "Silver Fire" and ignited on Poppet Flats Road near Hwy. 243, south of Banning at 2:05 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. In just five hours the fire has blazed through 5,000 acres of land and continues to burn rapidly. It is currently at 0 percent containment.
"It has been a very fast moving fire," said Daniel Berlant, Cal Fire spokesman. "It exploded this afternoon, really due to the fact that conditions are critically dry across California."
Fire officials in Riverside County have issued mandatory evacuation orders for the communities of Poppet Flats, Twin Pines and Silent Valle and residents in these areas are reportedly fleeing with the fire at their heels.
Several homes have already been completely burned down by the blaze, though officials don't have an official estimate on how many yet because the fire has spread so far out.
"Right now we have a number of homes that are being threatened," Berlant said.
For those that have been forced from their houses due to evacuation orders, two evacuation centers have been set up in the local area.
One center is at Hemet High School, located at 41701 East Stetson Avenue in Hemet, Calif. The second center is at Beaumont High School, located at 39139 Cherry Valley Boulevard in Beaumont, Calif.
Animal evacuees can be brought to the San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus at 581 South Grand Avenue in San Jacinto, Calif.
In terms of road closures, the Riverside County Fire Department has had to shut down Hwy. 243 between Banning and Azalea Trail in Poppet Flats.
Over 450 fire personnel have been recruited to fight the blaze, Resources being used include 71 fire engines, 14 fire crews, 4 air tankers, 5 helicopters, 3 dozers and 3 water tenders.
So far there has been one firefighter reported injured while battling the blaze, though details on what kind of injury and the extent of it are unknown.
Among the cooperating agencies who are working to fight the Silver Fire are the American Red Cross; Bureau of Land Management; CAL FIRE/Riverside; California Highway Patrol - Indio; March ARB; Morongo Fire Department; Riverside County Fire Department; Riverside County Fire Office of Emergency Services; Riverside County Sheriff's Department; and USFS - San Bernadino.