RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) – A wildfire broke out Thursday morning in the Santa Ana River bottom near downtown Riverside, with 30 to 40 mile per hour wind gusts quickly spreading the fire to residential areas and threatening homes, damaging at least one.
The Riverbottom Fire was reported about 11:10 a.m. on the perimeter of a Boy Scout camp, near Mission Boulevard and Indian Hill Road.
According to the Riverside Fire Department, flames quickly spread into deep brush along the dry river bottom, propelled southward by 25-30 mph winds. The blaze grew to about 50 acres by 1:55 p.m. between Indian Hill Road and the Santa Ana River Trail bike path. CAL Fire had also dispatched resources to the area.
Crews had the fire about 10 percent contained as of mid-afternoon.
“Right now we’re dealing with a lot of life, a lot of property at risk, multiple people live in the river bottom, along with a lot of residential neighborhoods adjacent to this,” Riverside Fire Capt. Tyler Reynolds told CBS2.
“We have a lot of risk to firefighters, they’re down inside the river bottom — the river bottom is a very dangerous location,” Reynolds added.
California Highway Patrol officers watching from the 60 Freeway went onto Indian Hill to help evacuate several properties.
A property on Redwood was reportedly damaged by flames, but few details were available. The backyard of a home in the 4600 block of Ninth caught fire, but crews deployed to provide structure protection and kept the fire at bay.
Embers hurled skyward by the high winds lit palm trees along Redwood, Mission Inn and Glenwood Drive, sparking isolated fires with which individual engine crews had to contend.
Multiple engine and truck companies from Cal Fire, Corona and other agencies poured into the city to assist with battling the wind-whipped brusher.
There was no word on how it started.
The fire grew quickly enough that officials started almost immediate evacuations.
As CBS2’s Randy Paige reports, the orders came so quickly many residents were caught off guard.
Evacuation orders were issued for several areas, including Indian Hill Road, Glenwood Drive, Miramonte Place, Loring Drive, Mt. Rubidioux Drive, Redwood Drive and several other side streets near Mount Rubidoux Park. No schools have been evacuated, although students were being kept inside.
(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)