Deadly 4,500-acre fire near Hemet began near reported ‘circuit activity’ by Edison

The billowing smoke over the ridge quickly turned to flames, and Jeremy Fields and his family had scant minutes to leave their ranch home.

He and his wife gathered what they could — clothes, their son’s inhalers, insurance papers — and ran out to escape the flames Monday,

 slipping on pink fire retardant on the ground. There was no time to move their animals, so they let loose their horses, chickens and a pet goat, hoping they’d survive on their own.

“If we wouldn’t have left the second we left, we would have been blocked in,” Fields said.

By Tuesday evening, the Fairview fire near Hemet had burned through 4,500 acres and fire officials continued to expand evacuation orders as the blaze threatened about 3,500 structures.

At least seven structures were destroyed and several more were damaged, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

Two residents in Avery Canyon were killed while trying to flee, officials said. A third was injured.