Fast-moving wildfire forces mandatory evacuations in California

(CNN) — A wind-whipped wildfire in Southern California forced the mandatory evacuation Wednesday of more than 1,500 homes north of Rancho Cucamonga, authorities said.

The fire, fanned by strong wind gusts and high temperatures, began in a preserve in San Bernardino National Forest at about 8 a.m. local time, according to Cal Fire. It has grown to more than 1,000 acres, the fire agency said.

Three schools — a high school, intermediate school and elementary school — have been evacuated, and a temporary evacuation center has been established in Rancho Cucamonga, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said.

Voluntary evacuations were also issued for hundreds of homes in the area as the winds pushed the fire south, authorities said.

At least one building has been damaged and a number of others are being threatened by the fire, Cal Fire said.

More than 580 firefighters and 30 fire engines were battling the blaze, Cal Fire said. With wind gusts clocked at 60 mph, fire officials say they have been unable to launch firefighting aircraft.

“The big challenge on these fires is the wind and the unpredictability, and with winds like this we can’t put up aircraft. It’s just too dangerous. So we try and figure out where it’s going to end up and put our resources there,” Bob Poole of the U.S. Forestry Service told CNN affiliate KCBS.

The fire came the same day the National Weather Service issued a “red flag warning” for the area, citing the fire danger posed by high temperatures, strong winds and dry conditions.

Rancho Cucamonga is a suburb of San Bernardino.

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