Fox News Weather Center

Wildfire Burns Near Palm Springs; Thousands Evacuated

A rapidly spreading wildfire is threatening thousands of homes and has forced evacuations near Idyllwild, Calif., southwest of Palm Springs this week. meteorologists expect winds to remain relatively light from the west and northwest through the end of the week. However, local effects produced by the terrain and the fire itself can continue to cause the blaze to spread rapidly.

Smoke has and will continue to lower the visibility in the area and could pose problems for people with respiratory ailments from around Palm Springs to Indio, Calif., and the nearby stretch of Interstate 10.

Temperatures are forecast to peak near 100 degrees with low humidity through Saturday.

According to Western Weather Expert Ken Clark, "Humidity levels are likely to increase substantially over the weekend and could allow spotty pop-up thunderstorms."

The higher humidity and any rainfall would greatly assist firefighting efforts.

However, while some of the storms can bring isolated rainfall, most storms will bring the risk of igniting new blazes due to lightning strikes with little or no rain.

According to the Incident Information System, the Mountain fire began at 1:43 p.m. PDT, Monday, July 15, 2013. As of 6:00 a.m. PDT Thursday, the fire had consumed close to 20,000 acres and was only 15 percent contained.

The fire spread rapidly through rugged terrain and dry brush and timber in the San Jacinto Wilderness area.

The fire has forced the evacuations of approximately 6,000 residents in the Idyllwild, Fern Valley, Apple Canyon and Andreas Canyon areas. Close to 4,000 homes are threatened.

Smoky conditions have also triggered voluntary evacuations of several camps in the region.

Nearly 3,000 firefighters are on scene, and over two dozen aircraft have been deployed to battle the blaze.