A fast-moving brush fire quickly blackened 1,470 acres in Cherry Valley, prompting a major firefighting response from both Riverside and San Bernardino counties and triggering evacuations of homes and a mobile home park.
The fire was 60 percent contained Wednesday evening. All evacuations were lifted Wednesday morning.
The fire may have been sparked by youths playing with matches near the entrance to Bogart Park, according to the fire department. Arson investigators were seeking help from the public. The county's arson hotline is at (800) 633- 2836. All calls can be placed anonymously, officials noted.
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The blaze was reported at 12:25 p.m. Tuesday near the area of Winesap Avenue and International Park Road and spread from seven to 100 acres in just over an hour, according to April Newman of the Riverside County Fire Department.
Just after 3 p.m., the so-called Bogart fire had grown to 400 acres and was continuing to spread at a rapid rate, Newman said. Initially, the fire bore no immediate threat to nearby structures.
However, about 1:45 p.m., fire officials reported that the Highland Springs Mobile Home Park at 10350 Overland Trail was being evacuated by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. Officials said 700 people had been displaced and some 200 homes ordered evacuated.
At 3 p.m., evacuation orders were implemented for all homes on the Banning Bench, a rural area just north of Banning. An evacuation center was established in Beaumont at the Albert A. Chatigny Senior Community Center, 1310 Oak Valley Parkway. More than 300 firefighters from Riverside and San Bernardino counties and the U.S. Forest Service were battling the blaze.
Evacuation orders were lifted for the Highland Springs Mobile Home Park Tuesday at 8 p.m. and residents with valid identification with homes on the Banning Bench were allowed to make entry at 8:45 p.m.