Firefighters strengthened containment lines overnight on an 850-acre fire that broke out in the Cleveland National Forest a few miles southwest of Wildomar, increasing the containment level to 90 percent Sunday as cooler temperatures set in.
Full containment of the blaze — dubbed the Wildomar Fire — is expected by Monday, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
The blaze was reported at about 12:30 p.m. Thursday in the San Mateo Canyon Wilderness area, south of the Ortega Highway and Main Divide Road.
No injuries have been reported, and the Ortega Highway, also known as Route 74, was open.
“Though fire activity is expected to be minimal, residents can expect to see interior burning and drift smoke within the fire perimeter until all material is consumed,” said the U.S. Forest Service.
Repair work on the burn scar will begin within the next few weeks, and the Wildomar off-highway vehicle area and campground was to be closed for the foreseeable future.
About 200 homes had been evacuated early Friday but the evacuation orders were lifted by 6 p.m. that afternoon.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory through Monday and warned residents in parts of Lake Elsinore and the Perris and Temecula valleys closest to the blaze of unhealthy air quality due to smoke and ash wafting in from the fire area.
“Everyone should avoid any vigorous outdoor or indoor exertion; people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children should remain indoors,” SCAQMD officials said.
The fire was sparked by a motorcyclist who crashed into a tree Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing information from the California Highway Patrol.
The 18-year-old man was riding alone down a dirt road when he hit a bump and lost control of the Yamaha motorcycle, crashing it into a tree, CHP Officer Mike Lassig told the newspaper.
The throttle of the motorcycle became stuck and the tank sprang a leak, lighting the tree and surrounding brush on fire, Lassig said.
The rider attempted to put out the flames, then ran two to three miles to grab his cellphone in his truck and call authorities, according to Lassig.
The rider suffered minor scrapes.
–City News Service
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