Hundreds battle fires in Temecula and Pala

Posted at 12:07 PM, Jun 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-05 15:07:25-04

Nearly 400 firefighters Sunday battled a freeway-side fire, which grew from 70 to 139 acres overnight in Temecula.

Crews started fighting the blaze shortly before noon Saturday, along the shoulder of southbound Interstate 15 just south of Temecula Parkway, Riverside County fire officials said.

The fire was originally reported at 15 acres, but it quickly spread.

The Temecula blaze was near a fire in Pala, at the northern edge of San Diego County. The Pala fire started Tuesday afternoon from a house fire in the far reaches of northern San Diego County.

Just north of the county line, the new Temecula Fire was about 30 percent contained overnight, fire officials said Sunday. Only vegetation has been destroyed by the blaze and no structures have been threatened. Fire officials said they hope that cooler weather Sunday will help slow the fire down. The National Weather Service predicted highs within the upper 80s Sunday. Parts of Riverside County reached triple digits on Saturday, possibly aiding in the spread of the fire.

Heavy traffic was expected to plague the 15 Freeway from Riverside County south towards San Diego throughout Sunday. Two right lanes were closed going up the hill south of Temecula Parkway, to just south of Rainbow Valley Boulevard as of 9 a.m.

The Pala Fire has grown to 70 acres and was 90 percent contained Sunday.

There have been several injuries to firefighters during the five-day fire, mostly heat related, according to Cal Fire Capt. Kendal Bortisser.

All roads in the Pala area that were closed due to the fire are now open. There is no estimated time of containment, Bortisser said.