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Sunday, February 25, 2024 1:04 PM PST

Air Quality alert issued due to smoke from Highland Fire

By Reginald Stanley. Posted November 2, 2023, 6:01 PM.

A large wildfire burning near Aguanga has sent plumes of smoke across large portions of the Inland Empire, and reaching some parts of Orange and San Diego counties Thursday.

Warm, very dry conditions exacerbated by recent Santa Ana Winds have contributed to the spread of a large wildfire, dubbed the Highland Fire, near Aguanga - a fire which has burned over 2,500 acres and is 25 percent contained as of Thursday afternoon. The fire has burned north of Highway 79, on both sides of Highway 371 very near Aguanga. According to CalFire, the Highland Fire began burning just after noon on Monday and has destroyed at least seven structures. Parts of Aguanga, as well as areas south of Highway 79, are under evacuation orders and warnings. In Temecula, Great Oak High School was turned into an evacuation center. An evacuation center for animals and livestock was opened in San Jacinto. Aguanga is located about halfway between the communities of Temecula and Anza.

The resultant smoke from the wildfire has prompted the National Weather Service to issue an Air Quality alert for western Riverside County, southwestern San Bernardino County, Orange County, and inland San Diego County through 5 PM Friday. Smoke was particularly noticeable in western Riverside County throughout Thursday afternoon. The fire forced road closures of Highway 79 from Vail Lake to the San Diego County line, Highway 371 from Highway 79 in Aguanga to Wilson Valley Road, Sage Road, and Wilson Valley Road.

More up-to-date information can be found on the CalFire website.

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