Southern California’s “Highland Fire” burns over 2,400 acres of land, forces more than 4,000 people to evacuate
11/06/2023 // Olivia Cook // Views

California state officials reported last week that a Southern California wildfire, dubbed the "Highland Fire," burned over 2,400 acres and forced the evacuation of more than 4,000 people in Riverside County.

According to the Riverside County Fire Department, the Highland Fire broke out on Oct. 30 at around 12:40 pm near Highlands and Aguanga Ranchos roads. The blaze reportedly started near a residence, but the exact cause is currently being investigated.

About 1,200 firefighters of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) tackled the blaze on the ground, and aircraft dropped fuschia-colored retardant in addition to more than 4.200 gallons on the wind-driven flames to try and slow the blaze.

Cal Fire said in a statement: "The steep and rugged terrain remains a challenge, and low relative humidity in the fire area combined with a predicted change in wind conditions could increase the possibility of (hot) spots across the line."

As of Friday night, Nov. 3, Cal Fire officials reported at least 13 structures were totaled, seven others were damaged and more than 2,300 structures were threatened by the blaze. (Related: Largest insurance company in California no longer accepting new home policies due to high risk of wildfires, cost of rebuilding.)

Air quality across Southern California was greatly reduced by the wildfire smoke, according to an advisory from the South Coast Air Quality Management District

A care and reception center was established for more than 4,000 evacuees at Great Oak High School in Temecula. Residents with large and small pets were invited to drop them at the San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus for safekeeping.

Evacuation orders put in place

As of Thursday, Nov 2, the Desert Sun reported that evacuation orders were in place for the following:

  • South of Sage Road, north of Cottonwood Creek, between Becker Lane and Boulder Vista
  • South of Highway 371, west of Sorenson Road and north of San Diego County Line Road
  • North of David Street, south of Pueblo Road, between Vail LakeResort and Shirley Way
  • South of Highway 79, north of the San Diego County line, between First Route 8S07 and Crosley Truck Trail

Evacuation warnings were also in place for the following:

  • West of the Cahuilla Tribal Reservation boundary and north of County Line Road
  • North of Cleveland National Forest, south of Watts Road and Avenida Bravura, between De Portola Road and Round Top Canyon Road

Road updates

McGough said some roads have been reopened, restoring access to some businesses along Highway 79.

Access was also restored to the Dripping Springs Campground and Vail Ranch. He added that Cal Fire was focused on continuing to reduce the area under evacuation and open up more stretches of roadway Thursday.

Teams were being sent in to repair damage roadways had sustained from bulldozers and other firefighting equipment as roads were being allowed to reopen, McGough added.

As of Monday, Nov. 6, Highway 371 northbound from Highway 79 is still closed. Only Highway 371 southbound from Willson Valley Road is open to returning residents.

Updates on evacuation orders, road closures and recommendations are available 24/7 @calfirerru – the Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department website.

Find more related stories at

Watch this video about Highland wildfire in California that forced 4,000 to evacuate.

This video is from the Daily Videos channel on

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Survival basics: Tips for finalizing a homestead evacuation plan.

California wildfires are causing unprecedented levels of air pollution.

California wildfires burn record-breaking 2 million acres (and counting).

California wildfires were caused by irresponsible development more than weather, according to expert.

Largest insurance company in California no longer accepting new home policies due to high risk of wildfires, cost of rebuilding.

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