Sandalwood Fire: 74 structures destroyed after fire sparked by burning trash rips through mobile home park

ByRob McMillan and staff via KABC logo
Friday, October 11, 2019
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A brush fire that erupted in Calimesa on Thursday afternoon was sparked when a trash truck dumped a burning load in the area, fire officials confirmed.

CALIMESA, Calif. (KABC) -- A brush fire erupted in Calimesa on Thursday afternoon when a trash truck dumped burning garbage in the area, resulting in the loss of 74 homes at a hilltop mobile home park, fire officials confirmed.

The Sandalwood Fire was at over 800 acres as of Friday morning and was 10% contained, according to Cal Fire Riverside. Evacuations remained in place for affected areas.

The flames from the burning pile of trash quickly spread and ignited nearby vegetation in flames, according to Cal Fire Riverside Capt. Fernando Herrera.

Fire officials provide details on cause of massive brush fire

It was not immediately clear if anyone was seriously injured in the so-called Sandalwood Fire, which began shortly before 2 p.m. on Sandalwood Drive near the 10 Freeway, Cal Fire Riverside said. Hours later, the blaze was still 0 percent contained.

Students were evacuated from nearby Mesa View Middle School and transported to Calimesa Elementary School in Yucaipa, where they were being reunited with their parents, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

Wall of fire flares up on roadside during Sandalwood Fire

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for south of Seventh Street and east of County Line Road, officials said.

An animal evacuation center was set up for families with large and small animals. Animals may be taken to the San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus, located at 581 S. Grand Ave.

Multiple agencies assigned a combined 120 firefighters to the incident, supported by two air tankers and a helicopter that were dropping Phos-Chek and water at the scene.

The flames were threatening the power grid and a railway in the area, Cal Fire said. A care and reception center was established at the Norton Younglove Multipurpose Senior Center, located at 908 Park Avenue in Calimesa.

A red flag warning had been in place in Riverside County and throughout the Southland since early Thursday morning.