Fire burning south of Lake Elsinore chars 850 acres

Now 75 percent contained, evacuations lifted

WILDOMAR, Calif. - Firefighters are making progress on a brush fire burning in Wildomar, that resulted in hundreds of evacuations in western Riverside County.

As of Saturday evening, flames had scorched about 850 acres and were 75 percent contained. All evacuation orders and warnings had been lifted by 6 p.m. Friday. All roads have also re-opened, but recreational activities around the area remain prohibited.

The fire was sparked by a motorcycle crash deep in the Cleveland National Forest, south of Lake Elsinore on Thursday afternoon, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Resident Ilka Siegmund was shocked at how quickly the fire grew.

"A small plume, and then, all of a sudden, it's like, boom, huge. I guess it exploded, I have no idea. I mean we have no wind so I don't know it got to this point," she said.

A mandatory evacuation order was issued early Friday for a portion of the La Cresta community in Murrieta west of Grand Avenue, north of Avenida La Cresta and south of Calle De Lobo, authorities said.

Authorities caution that residents may continue to see smoke coming from the interior of the burn until materials are fully consumed. They urge that people in the area use caution and good judgment, as hazards may still exist.

CAL FIRE stated on its website:

"The gated community of Bear Creek is under an Evacuation WARNING. An Evacuation ORDER has been issued. The area involved is west of Grand Avenue, north of Avenida La Cresta, and south of Calle De Lobo in the La Cresta Community.  Additional streets in the La Cresta Community include Avenida Castilla, Via Caballos, Calle de Suenos, Sierra Maria Road, Vista Flora Road, Teich Lane, Valle Vista, Via Sevilla, Paseo de Flores and Paseo Chaparro."

Evacuation warnings, which lets residents know they could be ordered to leave  at any time, were issued for residents in the Lakeland Village Community area west of Grand Avenue, and north of McVicar Street and south of Akley Street in Lake Elsinore and Wildomar, and for the gated community of Bear Creek in Murrieta, Cal Fire reported.

A warning also was issued for a few other streets in La Cresta including Avenida Castilla, Via Caballos, Calle De Suenos, Sierra Maria Road, Vista Flora Road, Teich Lane, Valle Vista, Via Sevilla, Paseo De Flores and Paseo Chapparo.

The 18-year-old man was riding alone down a dirt road when he hit a bump and lost control of the Yamaha motorcycle, crashing into a tree, CHP Officer Mike Lassig told the Los Angeles Times. The throttle of the motorcycle got stuck and the tank sprang a leak, lighting the tree and surrounding brush on fire, Lassig said.

The rider attempted to put out the flames, then ran two to three miles to grab his cellphone in his truck and called authorities, according to Lassig. The rider suffered minor scrapes.

A Cal Fire spokeswoman said air tankers and water-dropping helicopters were deployed to attack the flames, which could not be easily reached by ground personnel, who were trekking to the fire via trails and forest roads.

The fire was fast growing. By about 8:30 p.m. Thursday, it had scorched about 350 acres, according to Cal Fire. After daybreak today, its size had doubled.

A care and reception center was set up in the Lake Elsinore High School gym at 21800 Canyon Drive in Wildomar for those affected by the fire.

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