A fast-growing wildfire in Southern California's Cleveland National Forest forced the evacuation of communities in Riverside County and Lake Elsinore Monday, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Dubbed the Falls Fire, the blaze was reported about 10 a.m. near Ortega Highway (SR-74) at Decker Canyon, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
It grew from 175 acres at 3 p.m. to 500 acres about an hour later, officials said. The blaze had scorched 800 acres by 4:30 p.m. Shortly before 6 p.m., forest officials said the fire had consumed 1,200 acres. By 7 p.m., it had scorched 1,500 acres.
About 265 firefighters were battling the blaze. Two firefighters and one civilian received minor injuries, officials said.
Photos: Falls Fire Burns Near Homes
Mandatory evacuation orders remained in effect late Monday for Decker Canyon. Evacuation orders were lifted from the Lakeland Village area in Lake Elsinore, and Rancho Capistrano, fire officials said.
An evacuation center was created at Lakeside High School in Lake Elsinore.
The fire came dangerously close to homes, frightening some residents who decided to stay in the evacuated areas.
"There was about a 50 foot wall of flame coming right towards us," said homeowner Edgar De La Cruz. "And next thing you know, the wind died down and it gave the helicopters a chance to do what they do."
Temperatures in the area reached 93 degrees Monday evening with wind gusts of 9 mph, according to the National Weather Service. Humidity in the area hovered around 29 percent.