Sandalwood Fire: Residents file lawsuit against trash hauler blamed for starting blaze

CALIMESA, Calif. (KABC) -- Homeowners have filed a lawsuit against a waste hauler whose truck driver dumped burning refuse by a road in Calimesa, sparking the deadly Sandalwood Fire.

The Sandalwood Fire was sparked Oct. 10 around 2 p.m. when the driver dumped burning trash in the area of Calimesa Boulevard and Sandalwood Drive.

The fire quickly spread to nearby vegetation and then ravaged the Villa Calimesa Mobile Home Park, destroying dozens of structures and rendering the park uninhabitable.

Two women, ages 61 and 89, died in the fire.

The flames scorched 1,011 acres before firefighters reached full containment on Oct. 14.

Lawyers for homeowners say a civil suit was filed in Riverside on Tuesday alleging CR&R Inc. placed business interests ahead of public safety.

The suit says a passer-by pleaded with the driver not to unload the trash amid high winds.

Waste industry experts have said drivers are trained to find a safe place to unload burning trash in a truck fire.

The fire destroyed 76 structures, mainly homes at the hilltop mobile home park, fire officials said. An additional 16 structures were damaged, nine moderately and five minimally.

Investigators are working to determine if any criminal charges will be filed in connection with the fire.

Eyewitness News has reached out to CR&R for comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

VIDEO: Man loses home in Sandalwood Fire on eve of his birthday

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A Calimesa man says he lost his home in the Sandalwood Fire on the eve of his birthday.



Wall of fire flares up on roadside during Sandalwood Fire
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A 500-acre 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.



Fire officials provide details on cause of massive brush fire
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A 500-acre 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.

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