A fire erupted Tuesday behind a church in Wildomar, quickly spreading into heavy vegetation along a waterway and briefly threatening homes.

The non-injury blaze was reported about 12:30 p.m. adjacent to the Murrieta Springs Seventh-Day Adventist Church in the 23300 block of Palomar Street, roughly a half-mile west of Interstate 15, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

Multiple engine crews from the county and the city of Murrieta converged on the location within a few minutes and encountered flames burning toward a riparian area, consuming three acres within a half-hour.

Several homes situated near Copper Canyon Park were in the path of the fire, but crews out-flanked the brusher, preventing the properties from being damaged.

Sheriff’s deputies shut down Palomar between Grizzy Ridge Drive to the south and Wing Elm Circle to the north to prevent motorists from interfering with fire equipment, according to reports from the scene.

Smoke was drifting toward I-15 and overlaying parts of the freeway, disrupting travel and alarming motorists, triggering a flurry of 911 calls.

There was no immediate word on how the fire started.

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