A brush fire that was possibly triggered by lightning erupted Wednesday just west of Murrieta, blackening more than 50 acres, threatening structures and prompting a road closure.
The non-injury blaze was reported about 3:55 p.m. in the area of Clinton Keith and Tenaja roads, in the unincorporated community of La Cresta, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
The agency said 44 engine crews and seven hand crews, numbering more than 250 personnel, were sent to the location and encountered flames in heavy vegetation, spreading quickly to the north, and erratic winds.
Along with county fire crews, firefighters from Murrieta Fire & Rescue and other agencies were working to contain the brusher.
A half-dozen Cal Fire air tankers and three water-dropping helicopters were summoned to make runs on the blaze, which was threatening homes and other structures. The Santa Rosa Plateau Visitor Center was evacuated as a safety precaution, according to the fire department.
Clinton Keith was closed south of Avenida La Cresta for public safety and to give crews freedom to maneuver.
A battalion chief at the scene said the flames were skirting Clinton Keith and appeared to be headed toward an old burn scar, which could starve the flames of fuel.
A thunderstorm cell moved through the area just prior to the fire, and it’s suspected a lightning strike ignited it.
Power lines were reported down at the location.
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