Brush Fire in Southern California Prompts Evacuations

PHOTO: A U.S. Forest Service crew conduct a back burn to stop a wildfire burning, May 1, 2013, in Banning, Calif.
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More than 425 firefighters are battling blazes in Southern California while dozens of air tankers and helicopters drop water and retardant to combat fierce winds, high temperatures and dry weather feeding the brush fire 90 miles outside Los Angeles.

Hundreds of residents have been forced to evacuate their homes near Banning, Calif., in the Inland Empire section of Southern California.

"The fire is being pushed by this wind, very challenging today," one firefighter told ABC News. "Any little spark across the line and the fire will take off and run on us again."

By 9 p.m. Wednesday, the Riverside County Fire Department said the fire was mapped at 2,956 acres, according to ABC affiliate KABC-TV. With shovels and hoses, firefighters were looking to make headway.

"If the winds die down, firefighters will be able to get busy on the ground and hopefully we can hook this fire. But if we get strong, erratic winds throughout the evening, that could create quite a challenge," John Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service, told KABC.

Meanwhile, some residents are taking matters into their own hands. Jerry Prather and his neighbor grabbed a garden hose, and sprayed down trees, keeping the fires at bay until fire crews arrived.

"We've had fires here before, but nothing this close," Prather told ABC News.

Joe Keener's home was destroyed by the fire. As he backed out of his driveway, he said he wasn't worried about what was in the house.

"I just knew I had to leave," he said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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