A 15- to 20-acre wildfire burned in the badlands between Moreno Valley and Beaumont Sunday, as firefighters attacked the flames from both the ground and air.
The fire was reported at 10:45 a.m. beside Highway 60 east of Gilman Springs Road, a remote area full of rugged rolling hills, said Jody Hagemann of the Riverside County Fire Department. Firefighters appeared to have stopped the forward spread of the fire, she said.
Two air tankers and 60 firefighters from 10 engine companies were working to knock out the flames.
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The California Highway Patrol closed the right eastbound lane on Highway 60 due to the fire.
A caller told a CHP dispatcher that he saw people shooting in the area where the fire started and "saw a vehicle take off at high speeds after he heard a loud bang."
There were no reports of injuries and no structures were threatened.
It has been a busy start to year for firefighters as California comes off one of the most deadly and destructive on record in terms of wildfires. So far in 2018, 1,860 fires have burned 14,535 acres, according to Cal Fire. At this time last year, the agency reported 1,662 fires that burned 26,124 acres.
Forty-six people were killed and more than 11,000 homes were destroyed by wildfires in 2017. More than 9,000 fires burned 1.2 million acres across California.
The significant increase in the numbers and size of fires last year was largely because the state was coming off one of its wettest winters in years in 2016-2017, which left hillsides covered in grass and other vegetation. That grass dried out in summer and turned into tinder, providing fuel for rapidly spreading fires often pushed by strong winds that can carry hot embers for miles and turn small spot fires into infernos.