JURUPA VALLEY (CNS) – A wildfire that broke out today in Jurupa Valley damaged two homes and blackened more than 600 acres amid gusty Santa Ana winds, as crews made steady progress encircling it.
The Hill Fire was reported about 10 a.m. in the area of Granite Hill Drive and Pyrite Street, on the north side of the 60 freeway, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
Nearly 200 personnel were sent to the location and encountered flames burning along a hillside.
The fire’s rate of spread was stopped at 4:10 p.m., and as of 6:30 p.m., the 628-acre fire was 30% contained, with on-scene commanders releasing assets for the night as threats to lives and property diminished.
The size of the blaze was revised after a more thorough mapping of the fire lines just before nightfall.
With winds blowing 25-30 mph in the first hour of the fire, crews struggled to contain it and called in Cal Fire water-dropping helicopters to make runs on it. Air tankers were temporarily grounded because of the winds.
However, when gusts let up about 12:30 p.m., the tankers were able to return and drop retardant on the fire, forming initial containment lines.
One civilian and a firefighter suffered minor injuries, but were not burned, according to the fire department.
A residence on Fleming Street sustained external damage from the flames, and a nearby mobile home was also damaged, but the extent of the loss was not immediately known.
Flames jumped the freeway, and firefighters and California Highway Patrol officers shut it down in both directions at Pyrite. Lanes were tentatively re-opened at noon, with officers running periodic traffic breaks to ease the miles-long congestion. The entire freeway was available by 5 p.m.
The Santiago Estates Mobile Home Park in the 3700 block of Quartz Canyon Road was placed under a mandatory evacuation order, and the Miller Progressive Care Home at 8951 Granite Hill Drive was also evacuated, with some of the 75 patients immobile and requiring assistance from sheriff’s deputies to exit the facility, according to reports from the scene.
The Jurupa Unified School District evacuated students and staff from Granite Hill Elementary School, all of whom were taken to Jurupa Middle School on Agate Street for the rest of the day, according to the district.
Residences between Quartz Canyon Road to the east and Lindsay Street to the west, north of the Pomona Freeway, were included in the evacuation order. However, segments of the evacuation zone were downgraded to evacuation warnings, mainly south of Philadelphia Street, west of Lindsay, north of Van Buren Boulevard and east of Wineville Road.
Two care and reception centers were established, one at Patriot High School, 4355 Camino Real, and the other at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, 7447 Scholar Way, Corona.
The Department of Animal Services was providing free board to evacuated pets, which were being accepted at the Western Riverside County Animal Shelter, 6851 Van Buren Blvd.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.