A wildfire that broke out Thursday in the Santa Ana River bottom near downtown Riverside spread to residential areas, spawning spot fires amid high winds.
The blaze was reported about 11:10 a.m. on the perimeter of a Boy Scout camp, in the area of Mission Boulevard and Indian Hill Road.
According to the Riverside Fire Department, flames quickly spread into deep brush along the dry river bottom, propelled southward by 30 mph winds. As of 2 p.m., 50 acres had burned, and the main blaze was 10 percent contained, with the forward rate of spread stopped, according to a fire department division chief.
He said crews were tied up battling multiple spot fires that ignited around Mount Rubidoux.
As of 3 p.m., evacuations remained in effect for residents along Arfon Way, Glenwood Drive, Indian Hill, Ladera Lane, Loring Drive, Mount Rubidoux Drive, Redwood Drive and several other side streets abutting Mount Rubidoux Park.
A temporary evacuation center was established at the Dale Senior Center, 3936 Chestnut St, next to White Park. Some residents were also going to Bonaminio Park on Tequesquite Avenue, where fire crews were staging.
A property on Redwood was reportedly damaged by flames, but the extent of the loss was not immediately known.
California Highway Patrol officers watching from the Pomona (60) Freeway went onto Indian Hill during the first minutes of the blaze to help evacuate several properties.
The backyard of a home in the 4600 block of Ninth caught fire, but crews rapidly deployed and kept the flames at bay.
Embers hurled skyward by the intense Santa Ana winds lit on palm trees along Arfon, Glenwood, Mount Rubidoux, Mission Inn, Pine Street and Redwood, sparking isolated fires with which individual engine crews had to contend. Riverside police officers cordoned off streets to assist firefighters and ensure public safety.
A woman residing in the 4000 block of Redwood, just off of Glenwood, crawled onto the roof of her home in an apparent attempt to douse embers and fell. She was taken to Riverside Community Hospital for treatment of a possible broken leg, according to reports from the scene.
Engine and truck companies from Riverside County, Cal Fire, Corona, the March Air Reserve Base and other agencies poured into the city to assist with battling the wind-whipped brusher, which broke out amid a National Weather Service-issued Red Flag warning due to strong gusts coupled with low humidity.
Several Cal Fire water-dropping helicopters and air tankers made runs on the blaze, mostly on the north side of Mount Rubidoux, in the vicinity of Carlson Dog Park. The choppers were using nearby Lake Evans to take on water.
There was no immediate word on how the brusher started. The river bottom is dotted with homeless encampments, and fires have broken out in the past because of camp fires that got out of control.
–City News Service
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