Fire forces closure of highway Near San Jacinto

SAN JACINTO – A wind-driven brush fire that erupted Monday, Oct. 23, just north of San Jacinto charred 50 acres within a couple of hours and prompted the closure of a highway before it was partially contained.

The non-injury “Gilman Fire” was reported about 10:30 a.m. along state Route 79, just north of Gilman Springs Road, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

An agency spokeswoman said 16 engine crews and eight hand crews, numbering just over 200 firefighters, deployed to the brusher, which was 50 percent contained by 1:20 p.m. and not threatening homes or other structures in the rural space.

Four air tankers and three water-dropping helicopters were making runs on the blaze as it spread in 40 mph winds, feeding on extremely dry vegetation, according to reports from the scene.

The California Highway Patrol shut down both the north- and southbound sides of the 79 – the primary travel corridor linking Beaumont and San Jacinto – as a safety precaution. However, by 1:10 p.m., the northbound side of the highway was re-opened to traffic.

The CHP said the flames started on the northbound side of the highway and jumped to the other side less than 10 minutes later.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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