RIVERSIDE — Several explosions heard coming from what was reported as a vegetation fire turned out to be a homeless encampment burning, Tuesday night, June 27. Several loud explosions reported both before and after firefighters arrival slowed firefighters progress; but didn’t keep them from successfully knocking down the blaze.
The fire was reported shortly before 10 p.m., in the 3200 block of Strong Street, and was described as burning behind a residence near the 215/60/91 freeway interchange, in Riverside.
An area resident, who was just one of multiple 911 callers who reported the blaze, told emergency dispatchers he heard what sounded like several “loud explosions” when he first noticed the fire.
City of Riverside Fire and Police Departments responded to multiple reports of trees on fire at the location.
The first arriving engine company reported trees and vegetation on fire to the rear of a large residential property and began staging for an immediate fire attack.
As Firefighters were setting up to make their initial attack on the fire, something burning from inside the tree line – not far from where firefighters were setting up – exploded, sending a huge ball of flames shooting high into the air.
Despite the danger caused by explosions emanating from inside the blaze, firefighters made an aggressive fire attack and were able to quickly contain the fire to what firefighters later determined to be a homeless encampment and the surrounding trees and vegetation.
Firefighters’ quick response kept the fire from progressing towards nearby homes, which had been threatened by the blaze.
After the fire was extinguished, fire officials determined the blaze began at the homeless encampment between the interchange and the rear of the residential property on Strong Street.
There were no injuries reported and the cause of the explosions, believed to have been from propane and other fuel canisters at the encampment, is still under investigation.
Some witnesses told officials they saw several people walking away from the encampment just after the fire broke out and as fire crew were arriving.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation and no further details were immediately available.