MORENO VALLEY, Calif.- - UPDATE 7:24 a.m.: Fire is 90% contained, according to Cal Fire.
A brush fire, possibly sparked by a vehicle, scorched over 500 acres just east of Moreno Valley on Friday, threatening homes and prompting evacuations.
The non-injury blaze was reported at 1 p.m. in the area of Gilman Springs Road and Jerry Street, less than a mile south of the Moreno Valley (60) Freeway, in an area known as the Badlands, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
More than 20 engine crews and 10 inmate hand crews -- numbering roughly 250 personnel -- were sent to the location and encountered flames moving toward Laurene Lane, according to reports from the scene.
The fire split into two heads, and additional resources were summoned from cities throughout the region to establish containment lines. As of 6 p.m., the blaze was zero percent contained and continuing to expand into the Banning Pass, according to officials.
Five Cal Fire air tankers and three water-dropping helicopters were called in to make runs on the blaze, which threatened 15 homes spread out between Gilman Springs and Jack Rabbit Trail, according to the fire department. The residences were safely evacuated.
According to a battalion chief at the scene, several above-ground transmission lines, including a natural gas pipeline, were in the path of the flames.
Officials said crews would remain on the fire lines through the night, but aerial operations would be halted after sunset and would resume at daybreak Saturday.
Sheriff's deputies shut down Gilman Springs Road in the area of the fire for public safety, diverting southbound traffic back into Moreno Valley and northbound traffic back into San Jacinto.
According to the California Highway Patrol, a tractor-trailer going north on Gilman Springs Road may have sparked the fire when a component on its trailer fell onto the roadway and was dragged behind the truck, throwing sparks.
The sparsely populated Badlands is marked by rugged, hilly terrain that's difficult to access, except via dirt roads.
South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory for the surrounding areas, including the Coachella Valley, due to reduced air quality. That is expected to expire Saturday afternoon.
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Updated On this day: August 24