MORENO VALLEY (CBSLA) — A police pursuit ended in a crash Thursday afternoon that ignited a brush fire near a Moreno Valley neighborhood.
Riverside County sheriff’s officers were pursuing a driver in a suspected stolen vehicle just before 5 p.m. when the driver crashed in the area of Bay Avenue and Grant Street.
The crash ignited a brush fire in the area that burned at least five acres, two homes, and an outbuilding, Cal Fire reported as of 5:40 p.m.
From the scene, live ammo could be heard exploding in the blaze.
In an update from Cal Fire, the two homes involved in the fire had significant fire damage and as many as 9 cars, including the sheriff’s vehicles, were either damaged or destroyed.
Aerial views from SKY2 showed the vehicle the suspect was driving and two police patrol vehicles charred.
Several animals were rescued from the area; Two dogs from one of the burning homes, and reports of up to 20 birds.
Mandatory evacuations were in place on four blocks in the area involving more than 70 homes.
Voluntary evacuations were placed for 16 surrounding homes.
KCAL9’s Nicole Comstock spoke to witnesses who saw the crash and subsequent fire.
One witness in particular was visibly angry at the suspect.
“You just ruined so many people’s lives right now,” said Robert Phillips, “because you decided to run from the cops and not own up to what you did.”
Power lines were down on the backside of the field that caught fire, and some homes had their power shut off as a precaution.
According to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, a male and female suspect ran from their vehicle after crashing but were quickly taken into custody.
No injuries were immediately reported but ambulances were on scene treating multiple people, possibly homeowners who inhaled smoke.
Cornelio Sandoval watched as flames threatened his parents’ home. They lived in the residence since 1986.
“I just feel bad,” he said, “you know, that’s my dad’s house.”
The home was eventually spared but the fence and two cars were lost.
“You know, they’re retired,” he says, “so it’s going to be hard for them to get another car.”