Brush fire breaks out near Lake Elsinore

ortega fire

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. - A brush fire that broke out today in the Cleveland National Forest quickly spread to 175 acres and prompted the evacuation of a secluded residential development as well as a campground.

The blaze was reported at around 10 a.m. about five miles west of Lake Elsinore and just south of the Ortega (74) Highway.

U.S. Forest Service spokesman Jake Rodriguez told City News Service that the Decker Canyon area was under a mandatory evacuation order as flames approached the roughly 50-home development.

Public safety officials also closed access to the nearby El Cariso Campground off El Cariso and Main Divide roads, the Wildomar Off-Highway Vehicle Area and the California Wildland Firefighter Memorial.

USFS and Riverside County Fire Department personnel were conducting joint operations. Rodriguez said 20 engine crews and six inmate hand crews, backed by six air tankers and three water-dropping helicopters, were working to contain the wildfire.

``We have pretty decent access right now,'' he said. ``The winds are picking up a little bit, so we have to watch that.''

He described the brush as ``medium.''

It was too early for containment projections, Rodriguez said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.   

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