NILAND — The City of Niland was completely evacuated as local residents were displaced after a blazing five alarm fire ripped through homes Sunday evening, June 28. Imperial County Fire Department first engaged the large brush fire at approximately 6:30 p.m. on the west side of Highway 111 and 4th Street in Niland, according to Imperial County Fire Department’s Facebook page.
The fire quickly spread due to high winds and was elevated from a three-alarm to a five-alarm fire. Winds Sunday evening ranged from 30 to 40 miles per hour with gusts up to 55 miles per hour, according to a Wind Advisory from National Weather Service Phoenix.
Imperial County Public Information Officer Linsey Dale said units from all Imperial County Fire Stations, including Naval Air Facility El Centro, responded as well as teams from Yuma and two different Strike Teams from San Diego. Fire Strike Teams consisted of 25 men and five engines each.
Dale said 37 structures were affected by the blaze, amounting to about 43 families or 130 individuals. County officials were still on-site assessing the damage as of Monday afternoon, she said.
As the fire spread, evacuation assistance came from Imperial County Sheriff’s Office, the US Border Patrol and the California Highway Patrol, Dale said.
California Highway Patrol closed northbound Highway 111 and redirected traffic away from Niland.
Individuals and families were originally evacuated to Calipatria High School’s Erickson Gymnasium for assessment as a temporary destination. Temporary housing for the displaced consisted of 24 hotel rooms in nearby cities, Dale said. American Red Cross volunteers were also on-site to provide food and hydration for first responders.
The fire was contained at approximately 10:07 a.m., according to County of Imperial’s Twitter.
Officials are still investigating the initial cause of the fire and assessing damages.
A Niland Fire Local Assistance Center was opened at Calipatria High School’s Wirt Auditorium Monday, June 29. The LAC serves as a one-stop-shop with critical services for those impacted by the fire. Representatives from agencies such as Imperial County Social Services, Public Health, Behavioral Health, Workforce and Economic Development, Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo, Comite Civico del Valle, Campesinos Unidos, and the American Red Cross are available to work with displaced families to address their needs.
Calipatria High School is located at 501 West Main Street in Calipatria. For additional information on available assistance for displaced families, the public is encouraged to call (442) 265-6060.