A county landscaping crew clearing roadside brush in an effort to reduce the fire hazard ignited the blaze that consumed one large home and about 400 acres in the Murrieta area Wednesday, said Chief John Hawkins with Riverside Calfire.
As of 11 p.m. Wednesday, the fire was 50 percent contained. Full containment was not expected by the Riverside County Fire Department until 8 a.m. Thursday, with full control not expected till 6:00 p.m. Thursday.
Firefighters tried to retrieve some items from the house before it was hollowed out by fierce flames, aerial video showed.
The burned home, which was billowing smoke at about 4 p.m., appeared to be on Corte Providencia in Murrieta (map).
Homeowner Rick Snyder says he was keeping everything in perspective after the raging brush fire singled him out.
"We’ll have new parties and new boats. You know, we almost brought our boat home, put it in the driveway, my son was gonna do some work on it, said, 'Thank God we didn’t do that, it would’ve burned,'" said Rick Snyder. "So, no, we’re fine."
The blaze began at about 11:30 a.m. and grew to about 400 acres by about 3:30 p.m.
By 5:15 p.m., the cause of the fire was determined by CAL FIRE Investigators to be motorized equipment used to clear brush, according the incident website from the Riverside County Fire Department.
Three firefighters received minor injuries. One was transported by paramedics and the other was treated at the scene, the website stated.
Thirty-nine engine crews were battling the flames, with a total of 327 firefighters on site by 5:15 p.m.
Seven water-dropping helicopters and six air tankers were called into action to help contain the blaze.
The area burning is southwest of Murrieta in unincorporated Riverside County, near Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, a 9,000-acre county park in the southern end of the Santa Ana Mountains.
No evacuations were ordered, though a "soft" evacuation was in place for those in the area who felt unsafe, officials said.
The American Red Cross had opened a temporary evacuation center for those who voluntarily evacuated at Murrieta Valley High School, located at 42200 Nighthawk Way in Murrieta (map). It was closed by 6:10 p.m.