Fire erupts in Santa Ana River bottom

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RIVERSIDE (CNS) – A fire that broke out today in the Santa Ana River bottom near downtown Riverside charred 70 acres and threatened homes before it was partially contained.

The non-injury blaze was reported at 10:25 a.m. just northeast of McLean-Anza Narrows Park, according to the Riverside Fire Department.

More than two dozen engine crews from the city and Riverside County, as well as several Cal Fire hand crews, numbering about 100 personnel, were sent to the location and encountered flames in thick brush along the river bottom.

The blaze steadily consumed vegetation to the northeast, eventually reaching a neighborhood abutting the Santa Ana River Trail. Shortly after 1 p.m., a mandatory evacuation order was implemented for residents on Old Ranch Road and Park Cliff Court. However, the order was lifted 90 minutes later, as crews made progress blocking the fire’s path.

Two Cal Fire air tankers and a water-dropping helicopter made runs on the brusher, resulting in 30% containment by 3:45 p.m.

Firefighters were working through dense foliage to encircle the blaze. The location is dotted with homeless encampments, but the cause of the fire was not immediately known.