A wildfire that erupted on the north side of Corona Municipal Airport was stalled at 750 acres Friday, with crews making steady progress encircling it, creating enough safe space to fully reopen the Corona (71) Freeway.
“It’s looking really good around the airport,” Corona Fire Department Battalion Chief Robert Peterson said in a briefing. “We have aircraft to support our firefighters, who are progressing, working toward the 71.”
The non-injury “Airport Fire” was roughly 20% contained by noon Friday.
Because most of the activity had abated along the 71, which sustained damage along the roadway edges — mainly the guardrails — the unified command staff, composed of Cal Fire and Corona fire personnel, decided it was safe to reopen.
The southbound side closure was lifted at 11:10 a.m., and the northbound side closure was lifted almost exactly and hour later. The corridor had been shut down between the Riverside (91) Freeway and Chino Hills.
The fire broke out shortly after 1 p.m. Wednesday within the Prado Reservoir, bordering Riverside and San Bernardino counties, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
About 300 personnel from multiple agencies were sent to the location, encountering flames in thick vegetation, burning at a moderate rate away from the airport.
Cal Fire air tankers and water-dropping helicopters have been rotating on and off the fire lines daily.
Several structures were threatened in the early stages of the blaze, but crews prevented the flames from causing damage, according to reports from the scene.
It took about five hours on Wednesday for the brusher to char 50 acres. By Thursday morning, it had devoured 105 acres, and by Thursday evening, it had grown substantially to 750 acres, according to the county fire department.
The blaze started in the same general area as a small fire that began in the predawn hours Wednesday and was contained a short time later. There was no word on whether the two were connected, or what might have sparked either blaze.
The airport was shut down because of the firefighting activity, and a temporary flight restriction was imposed, covering a five-mile diameter around the field and up to 5,000 feet.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation.
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