Fire Erupts After Car Chase in Moreno Valley

A fire broke out and damaged two homes Thursday at the end of a stolen vehicle pursuit in Moreno Valley that ended with a crash.

The blaze was reported about 4:10 p.m. in the area of Bay and Phyllis avenues, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

Just prior to the fire, deputies had been chasing two suspects in an alleged stolen car.

"Two of our units were involved, but I don't know whether they were involved in the fire," sheriff's Deputy Mike Vasquez said. "We have two people detained."

There were no immediate reports of injuries. Firefighters converged on the location within a few minutes and encountered two homes in flames, along with an outbuilding, according to reports from the scene.

A battalion chief at the scene said the fires were at 13679 Phyllis Ave., 13657 Phyllis Ave. and 22350 Ella Ave. The extent of damage could not be confirmed. The fire spread into a field between Phyllis and Cottonwood avenues, officials said. About five acres burned.

According to the fire department, houses on Bernie Avenue, as well as Ella and Phyllis avenues, were evacuated, in addition to properties on Ellsworth Avenue, between Ella and Cottonwood avenues, and at Ellsworth and Bay avenues.

The number of impacted residents was not available, and it was unclear whether the evacuations stemmed entirely from the fire threat, or other hazards.

Nestor Garcia got out of there.

"I was choking because the smoke was bad," he said. "I covered my mouth. I knew I had to get my family out. I grabbed my dogs, important paper and money, I grabbed my cars and left."

Troy Craver also evacuated.

"It was pretty scary," he said. "The whole block was at risk."

American Red Cross personnel were summoned to assist, and a temporary evacuation center was established at Towngate Elementary School, 22480 Dracaea Ave.

The fire department reported that in addition to the two damaged homes, nine vehicles were destroyed or damaged and three outbuildings burned as well. Crews protected about 80 homes, officials said.

NBC4's Hetty Chang contributed to this report.

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