Three fires that may have been intentionally set erupted Friday in Cherry Valley, quickly charring 18 acres and threatening homes as crews deployed to battle them.

The fires were reported at 5 p.m. in the area of Apple Tree Lane and Oak Glen Road, on the north end of the unincorporated community, which borders Beaumont, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

Fifteen engine crews and 10 hand crews, numbering well over 100 personnel, were sent to the location and encountered the three blazes coalescing in a drainage with heavy vegetation.

Four Cal Fire air tankers and two water-dropping helicopters were immediately summoned from the Hemet-Ryan Air Attack Base.

Sheriff’s deputies were requested to shut down Oak Glen between Cherry Valley Boulevard and Wildwood Canyon Road. It was unclear whether evacuations might be imminent.

A resident at 8189 Avenida Miravilla reported flames approaching her doorstep, and crews were sent to establish structure protection.

Witnesses called 911 as the fires started, saying a man was seen walking along Apple Tree Lane, igniting each blaze.

Arson investigators were dispatched to the area.

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