A wind-driven wildfire destroyed several structures and vehicles in the Jurupa Valley. A family of seven lost all they own in the blaze. Gordon Tokumatsu reports from Jurupa Valley for the NBC4 News Tuesday Jan. 14, 2014.
A destructive fire that ripped through the small community of Jurupa Valley left a family of seven homeless, and the patriarch alleges that fire crews of not doing enough to protect his home.
On any other day, a fire like Tuesday’s could be knocked down fairly quickly. But powerful Santa Ana winds gusting up to 35 mph combined with a tightly constructed neighborhood of homes and outbuildings to make the task especially difficult.
Alejandro Heredia was at home with his 16-day-old and 3-year-old children when his mobile home caught fire. Heredia and his wife and five children are safe, but their three-bedroom mobile home was a smoldering ruin Tuesday night.
“My jewelry, my money, my furniture, everything,” Heredia said, describing what he lost in just minutes.
Heredia said he believes firefighters could have saved his home but refused to help him when he asked.
The captain of the Riverside County Fire Department responded to the claim to NBC4.
“Sometimes, the bigger story or the bigger picture is to save the most amount of things. And sometimes, we can’t get to the other things that are going on,” Capt. Lucas Spelman said.
In the case of the Mission Fire, that meant a hard-charging, wind-fueled blaze that jumped from home to home and building to building.
At least 110 firefighters fought the blaze, which prompted mandatory evacuations in a 1-square-mile area, the Riverside County Fire Department said.
Two acres of vegetation, 40 vehicles (most of which were under repair or salvaged), three motorhomes and four residential homes were destroyed, the agency said, citing a preliminary damage assessment. Two other structures were damaged.
Much of Southern California, including Riverside County, remained under Red Flag warnings Tuesday as dry, hot conditions fueled high fire danger.