The fire started at about 4:45 p.m. at Jurupa Regional Park near the Santa Ana riverbed at Rio Road and Calle Hermosa. The fire has burned approximately 150 acres and was 30 percent contained by 12:30 a.m. Friday. Riverside County Fire says crews will remain on scene through the night.
The fire is burning about a quarter mile away from homes. Just before 9:30 p.m., fire officials said evacuations had become voluntary. Evacuations were ordered earlier in the evening for residents on Greenbrier Drive and Grassy Trail in the city of Riverside. An evacuation site has been set up at Nichols Park, located at 5505 Dewey Avenue.
"The flames were 75 feet and the embers were even higher than that, they went clear over my house," said resident Bonnie Mead.
A parked recreational vehicle in the back yard of a residence caught fire about a quarter-mile from the brush fire. The RV fire was believed to have been sparked by floating embers carried from the brush fire.
Southern California Edison said seven power poles were destroyed by the fire. Riverside County Fire says about 1,846 residents are without power. Riverside City Public Utilities are reportedly working to restore power.
About 200 Cal-Fire and Riverside County firefighters are on scene battling the flames from the ground. Orange County Fire Authority, Riverside City and Corona City firefighters are also assisting the effort. Light winds were initially reported in the area, but they have since died down.
As of 7:30 p.m., a single helicopter was reportedly attacking the flames from above.
Kimberly Rowland and her other family members have been moving valuables out of the house her parents have lived in for 60 years.
"We know what it can do, so we want to be prepared," she said.
Authorities have not confirmed what started the fire, though it was believed the fire may have been sparked by downed power lines. The cause of the fire remained under investigation.
Residents are watching the weather conditions as fire crews work to protect their homes.
"I think they're probably going to get a handle on it, but what we're worried about is we're hearing they're predicting more winds tonight and that's what we're all nervous about," said Steve Helgeson.
Humidity in Riverside reached 55 percent by 11 p.m. and the winds have backed off, but another surge of 15-35 mph Santa Ana winds is expected around 4 or 5 a.m. A wind advisory is in effect for the area and is due to expire at 2 p.m. Friday.