The Riverside County Fire Department Saturday reported that a brush fire that has scorched 522 acres just east of Moreno Valley, threatening homes and prompting evacuations, is now 90 percent contained.
Aerial operations aimed at fighting the brush fire had resumed Saturday morning and ground crews remained overnight.
The non-injury blaze was reported at 1 p.m. Friday in the area of Gilman Springs Road and Jerry Street, less than a mile south of the Moreno Valley (60) Freeway, in an area known as the Badlands, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
More than 20 engine crews and 10 inmate hand crews — numbering roughly 250 personnel — were sent to the location and encountered flames moving toward Laurene Lane, according to reports from the scene.
The fire split into two heads, and additional resources were summoned from cities throughout the region to establish containment lines.
Five Cal Fire air tankers and three water-dropping helicopters were called in to make runs on the blaze, which threatened 15 homes spread out between Gilman Springs and Jack Rabbit Trail, according to the fire department. The residences were safely evacuated.
According to a battalion chief at the scene, several above-ground transmission lines, including a natural gas pipeline, were in the path of the flames.
Sheriff’s deputies closed the north- and southbound lanes of Gilman Springs Road between Alessandro Boulevard and Highway 60 for public safety, diverting southbound traffic back into Moreno Valley and northbound traffic back into San Jacinto.
According to the California Highway Patrol, a tractor-trailer going north on Gilman Springs Road may have sparked the fire when a component on its trailer fell onto the roadway and was dragged behind the truck, throwing sparks.
The sparsely populated Badlands is marked by rugged, hilly terrain that’s difficult to access, except via dirt roads.