A brush fire possibly sparked by a malfunctioning trash truck broke out Thursday near Interstate 10 in Calimesa, destroying mobile homes, injuring an unknown number of people and charring more than 500 acres as it spread to neighboring San Bernardino County.
The blaze was reported at 1:58 p.m. at Sandalwood Drive and Seventh Street, near the I-10 exit ramp, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
An agency spokesman said the fire originated in a trash truck, and when the driver pulled over to deal with it, flames leapt from the vehicle into dry grass, blowing into the Villa Calimesa Mobile Home Park. At least five residences were initially destroyed, but within hours, roughly two dozen mobile home had been consumed by the blaze.
It was unclear how many of the homes were occupied at the time. The number and types of injuries at the location also could not be immediately confirmed.
Evacuations were ordered for residences south of Seventh Street and east of County Line Road, as well as nearby Mesa View Middle School, officials said. An ambulance was called to the school, but it was not immediately known whether the emergency was related to the fire or something else. Mesa View Middle School students were taken by bus to Calimesa Elementary School in Yucaipa.
A care and reception center for evacuees was established at the Calimesa Senior Center, 908 Park Ave. The county Department of Animal Services deployed staff to the area to assist with pet evacuations.
Pets were being accepted without charge at the San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus at 581 S. Grand Ave.
Six Cal Fire air tankers and several water-dropping helicopters were summoned to make runs on the brusher, which expanded into San Bernardino County, approaching the city of Redlands, shortly before 3 p.m.
Crews from the San Bernardino County and Redlands fire departments joined Riverside County under a unified command.