Winchester fire causes evacuations, scorches 300 acres

Smoke chokes nearby Hemet area residents as firefighters call in full air attack

Photos by EN Media Productions/John Strangis
A Cal Fire truck holds the line against the raging brush fire Thursday near Winchester.

■ By Chris Smith / Advisory Editor

Hemet residents walked out into a murky haze Thursday afternoon, May 17, that made everyone wonder if there was a major forest fire burning in the mountains.
Turns out it was a brush fire near Winchester that nearly got out of control before Cal Fire and the Riverside County Fire Department among others quenched the 300-acre blaze.

The fire Thursday stretched across the horizon in a spooky wave of oncoming destruction.

Dubbed the Patterson fire, it began in the 34000 block of Rawson Road near Winchester about 2:20 p.m. The blaze caused residents in about a half dozen homes along Hidden Falls and Vista roads to be evacuated and had burned some 200 acres within an hour of starting.
Before the blaze was out, Riverside and Cal Fire had launched 94 firefighters in 23 engine companies along with four helicopters, four air tankers, and four bulldozers in a swift and powerful response to keep the fire contained.
Among the various agencies involved in attacking the fire were Cal Fire/Riverside, California Highway Patrol (CHP), City of Hemet Fire Department, March Air Reserve Base, Murrieta Fire Protection District, Riverside City Fire Department, Riverside County Fire Department, and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office.
The cause of the blaze is being investigated by fire department investigators.

An air tanker drops fire retardant on the Winchester Patterson blaze that scorched more than 300 acres.
Cal Fire helicopters in line to scoop up water from the California Aqueduct.

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