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Crews continue work in Banning to contain 3,000-acre Summit Fire

Published On: May 02 2013 04:15:41 PM CDT
Updated On: May 03 2013 12:44:08 AM CDT

Summit fire

BANNING, Calif. -

The Summit Fire in Banning is 55% contained according to the last update from Riverside County Fire at 8 p.m. Thursday night.

Despite stiff winds blowing through the San Gorgonio Pass, crews continued to make progress Thursday toward encircling a roughly 3,000-acre blaze near Banning that destroyed a house and left two firefighters with minor injuries.

More than 400 firefighters were working the fire lines, aided by four water-dropping helicopters and an air tanker, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

Easterly winds gusting between 30 and 40 mph were making the containment effort difficult, officials said.

The blaze broke out near North San Gorgonio Avenue and Summit Drive about 12:40 p.m. Wednesday, fire department spokeswoman Jody Hagemann said. It spread quickly through what she described as "medium brush" and burned at least one structure.

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Two firefighters suffered minor injuries, and one home was lost to the flames.

Located at 43425 Mesa St., northwest of town, the house belonged to 53-year-old Joseph Kiener, who told reporters he managed only to save himself and his dog before the flames struck.

 Evacuation orders for the 200-unit Highland Springs Mobile Home Park were rescinded late Wednesday. Mias Canyon Road also was reopened, but closures remained in effect along Wilson Street, between San Gorgonio and Sunset avenues.

An evacuation center was in operation at the Banning Community Services Center, 789 N. San Gorgonio Ave.

About 425 firefighters from Riverside County, Palm Springs, Cathedral City, other cities and districts in Southern California, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and the U.S. Forest Service were deployed to fight the blaze, according to Hagemann.

The Riverside County Animal Services Department sent personnel to the fire command post and had an emergency rescue unit on standby, said agency spokesman John Welsh.

An evacuation center for small animals affected by the fire was opened at San Jacinto Valley Animal Services, 581 S. Grand Ave. and a center for large animals at Noble Creek Park, 390 Oak Valley Parkway in Beaumont.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory for the area, warning that air quality could reach unhealthy levels. People should avoid strenuous outdoor activities, keep windows and doors closed and run an air conditioner, according to air quality officials.