An 89-year-old mother was missing after a wind-driven wildfire sparked by burning trash swept through a Southern California mobile home park, her concerned has revealed.
Lois Arvickson called her son, Don Turner, from her cellphone to say she was evacuating shortly after the blaze was reported in the Calimesa area, while his family were at the evacuation centre.
‘She said she’s getting her purse and she’s getting out, and the line went dead,’ he said.
The fire on Thursday evening destroyed dozens of residences as raging winds moved down the state and ignited the Villa Calimesa Mobile Home Park, where Arvickson lived alone about 75 miles (120 kilometers) east of downtown Los Angeles.
A concerned son says his 89-year-old mother Lois Arvickson (pictured) was missing after a wind-driven wildfire sparked by burning trash swept through a Southern California mobile home park
Firefighters try to protect surrounding homes as they battle the Sandalwood Fire in the Villa Calimesa Mobile Home Park in Calimesa, California on Thursday
A helicopter makes a water drop on the Reche Fire above Reche Canyon Road south of Reche Vista Drive near Moreno Valley, California, on Thursday
Arvickson’s neighbors saw her in her garage as flames approached, according to Turner. A short time later the neighbors saw the garage on fire, but they don’t know if she’d managed to escape, he said.
Riverside County fire officials said they’re still trying to determine if anybody is unaccounted for after 74 structures were decimated.
Previously authorities said they responded to ‘numerous’ medical emergencies at the park. Several residents were transported to hospitals but there were no details on their conditions, county fire Capt. Fernando Herrera said.
Turner said he’s been checking hospitals.
Fire danger is high throughout California after the typically dry summer and early fall. The high temperatures and winds predicted for inland areas of Southern California materialized mid-afternoon Thursday, when the driver of a commercial trash truck dumped a smoldering load to prevent the vehicle from catching fire.
Dry grass quickly ignited and winds gusting to 50 mph (80 kph) blew the fire into the Villa Calimesa Mobile Home Park, where Arvickson lived alone about 75 miles (120 kilometers) east of downtown Los Angeles. The park has 110 home sites and was built in 1958, according to its website. TV helicopter video showed vehicles and structures that were total losses.
About 160 students sheltered in place as smoke enveloped nearby Mesa View Middle School before buses arrived and evacuated them to another school outside the fire zone.
Firefighters battle the Sandalwood Fire as it destroys homes in the Villa Calimesa Mobile Home Park in Calimesa, California, on Thursday
Firefighters work to contain a wildfire burning off Merrill Drive in Moraga, California, on Thursday
Strong, gusting winds push flames through the Villa Calimesa mobile home park in Calimesa, California
Crews were also battling a brush fire that prompted evacuations and closed Interstate 210 in the Sylmar neighborhood of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. Several vehicles burned in a nearby industrial complex. Another blaze threatened a neighborhood in the Newbury Park area of Ventura County, west of Los Angeles.
Fire officials were investigating what caused the trash in the truck to catch fire in Calimesa.
Linda Klosek, 70, and her daughter Stacey Holloway, 43, had gone grocery shopping and were on their way back home to Villa Calimesa when they saw their neighbors evacuating.
‘You couldn’t even see anything, the smoke was so thick,’ said Linda.
ANF Texas Canyon Station Firefighters battle the flames of the Saddlebridge Fire in Sylmar, California on Thursday, above and below
According to reports the fire is progressing quickly due to the strong winds, prompting an evacuation of the nearby inhabitants
‘When you’re watching it, it’s like someone else’s home,’ Stacey said. They returned $60 worth of groceries to the store because now ‘there’s no place to put it’
From the evacuation center they watched on TV as flames destroyed their home.
‘When you’re watching it, it’s like someone else’s home,’ Stacey said. They returned $60 worth of groceries to the store because now ‘there’s no place to put it.’
The blaze, dubbed the Sandalwood Fire, was 10% percent contained Thursday night. It was one of several that broke out amid high winds and dry conditions that prompted California utilities to preemptively cut power to more than 2 million people in high-danger areas to guard against power lines sparking fires. The area that includes the mobile home park still had its power when the fire occurred.
To the west of Calimesa, firefighters contained a blaze that damaged two homes near Fontana. It was not immediately clear whether the power outage included the location where the fire broke out.
An ANF Texas Canyon Station Firefighter shields his face with his arm as he looks at the flames of the Saddlebridge Fire in Sylmar, California
A helicopter drops water on a bushfire in the Santa Monica Mountains in Newbury Park, California
ANF Texas Canyon Station Firefighters battle the flames of the Saddlebridge Fire in Sylmar
In Northern California, a brush fire sparked Thursday morning in the San Bruno Mountains south of San Francisco, prompting voluntary evacuations. No homes burned and firefighters made quick progress.
Hot, dry winds sweeping into Southern California raised concerns that the region’s largest utility could widen power shutoffs Friday to prevent its equipment from sparking wildfires.
Southern California Edison turned off electricity to about 20,000 people in Los Angeles, Ventura, San Bernardino and Kern counties but warned that thousands more could lose service as Santa Ana winds gained strength.
Winds gusted dangerously as forecast before calming in Northern California, where Pacific Gas & Electric faced hostility and second-guessing over its widespread shutoffs.
A helicopter drops water near power lines and electrical towers while working at a fire on San Bruno Mountain near Brisbane, California on Thursday