Family home up in flames
The fire claimed at least one Banning house.
Joe Kiener said his mother bought the home in 1973 and lived there until her death last month.
"I didn't think I was going to lose the house at all," he said Wednesday. "I just knew that the fire was coming across at a rapid speed from east to west, and I was safe at the time."
But then the wind shifted.
"I grabbed the dog ... and put him into the car," making a quick getaway with a police escort, he said.
Perfect conditions for wildfires
The early start to the Western wildfire season has authorities concerned. Only a couple of inches of rain have fallen in Southern California since the start of the year, making the region as dry as it normally would be in the fall, when fire season is typically at its peak.
"It could be a very long, hot summer with a lot of potential for fires if they get started and if we continue to have the hot, dry weather," said Hutchinson, the Cal Fire battalion chief. "It's only going to get hotter and drier as we go through the summer."
The National Weather Service said a red flag warning was in effect until Friday evening. Forecasters called for wind speeds between 15 and 25 mph, with gusts up to 45 mph.
Forecasters say the combination of strong winds, low humidity and warm weather will create "extreme fire behavior."
Better get used to it, says Hutchinson.
"Fire season is here. Everyone needs to be alert for that. They need to be prepared for that."