MORENO VALLEY, Calif. - Firefighters made good progress in their battle against brush fire that scorched more than 1,000 acres east of Riverside. Dubbed the Blaine Fire, it started in Riverside and raced over Box Springs Mountain toward Moreno Valley.
Only one structure suffered minor damage, but an entire neighborhood was left to clean up after Calfire said air tankers dropped fire retardant onto more than a dozen homes.
Early Monday morning, fire retardant still covered many of the homes on Montejo Dr. in Moreno Valley. Street signs, mail boxes, solar panels, and yard furniture were covered with the pink gel-like substance, which had since dried. Several homes had their swimming pools turn pink as well.
"I was looking out the window and saw people running who were covered in it," said Jeff Biere, describing what he saw across the street as the fire broke out late Sunday afternoon.
His home was among those hit by the fire retardant, and he was working outside with a fire hose to try to clean up. He was at home when the air tanker made its drop. When asked to describe what it sounded like, he said "Heavy rain. Just a big splash of heavy rain. And then nothing, although a while later it happened again."
Melody Knox said she was at home, having a snack with her son, when the fire broke out. Later on, as neighbors were preparing to evacuate, she said she was hit by fire retardant, all over her body. "It was all on us, I had to wash my hair today. It was like rain."
Despite the mess, no homes in the neighborhood were destroyed by the fire. Most residents who spoke with Eyewitness News said they're just happy they didn't lose their homes.
Calfire-Riverside County Fire Dept. spokesperson Jeff LaRusso said, "It worked and it's a good thing."
He acknowledges the big mess residents have on their hands. "It's going to be difficult. I've seen people with garden hoses, and it takes time, but hopefully we can come in with higher pressure with our fire engines, with a bigger diameter hose, and we can do some good work today."
By late Monday afternoon, a good portion of the fire retardant on Montejo Drive had been cleaned up. Homes on other streets were also hit by fire retardant, although the mess wasn't nearly as bad.
Calfire has set up a hotline for those whose homes were affected. The phone number is (951) 436-4142.
The cause of the Blaine Fire is still under investigation.