COACHELLA, Calif - Big gusts of winds blew in more problems for neighbors and firefighters working to contain a brush fire at an empty field at Avenue 54 and Tyler Street in Coachella on Thursday.
The fire was officially declared 100 percent contained at 11:35 p.m. Thursday night at 40 acres. Two firefighters were injured. It was not known how seriously.
The winds created flareups, spreading the flames from 31 acres to 40 acres as of 9:40 p.m., according to Cal Fire Battalion Chief Bonifacio De La Cruz.
14 IID customers were without power due to burned power poles from the late night spread.
Originally 19 local engine crews were on scene throughout the day and evening, but Cal Fire says because of flare-ups they called in 5 additional crews from Cherry Valley, Moreno Valley, Lake Paris, Hemet and Blythe to help.
The flames swallowed dry brush and sent thick black smoke billowing into the desert sky.
"No one was too alarmed because it started small but got big quick," said Jared Trawick, president of Imperial Western Products in Coachella.
The fire was reported at just before 2:00 p.m. Thursday.
A Cal Fire spokesman said the fire charred 31 acres of the heavy brush at a moderate rate. Smoke had been reported across the Valley. Fire officials say they were aggressive with air support and bulldozers, which helped contain the fire at 90 percent.
"That's our objective this fire season, we've got to hit it hard and fast to keep as small as we can to be effective," said fire captain Scott Visyak.
The fire shut down Avenue 54 throughout the day and night.
There were no forced evacuations, but several residents and nearby business Imperial Western Products voluntarily evacuated the area as a precaution. Trawick said he closed shop early, creating a bit of a financial burden for his business.
"Obviously when you send home employees, you're paying for them not to work. Trucks couldn't come in to deliver," said Trawick.
The Riverside County Sheriff's Department was on scene helping with traffic control and possible evacuations if needed.
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