Southern California Wildfire 40% Contained

By  | 

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) - Southern California firefighters have made significant progress against remnants of a wildfire that damaged a home and cut power to about 2,000 residents in Riverside County.

The blaze in the Santa Ana River bottom is 40 percent surrounded Friday. Better mapping of the scene has increased the size from 200 acres to 311 acres.

The fire erupted late Thursday in heavy vegetation in the river bottom between Riverside and Jurupa (hoo-ROO-puh) Valley, and at its peak prompted a call for voluntary evacuations.

Fire spokesman Greg Birchfield says flames died down overnight but there are still hotspots and there is concern about winds picking up.

Southern California is experiencing a round of gusty Santa Ana winds caused by high pressure over the Great Basin. Temperatures are expected to reach the 80s.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A wildfire that damaged a house and left nearly 2,000 Southern California residents without power was 30 percent contained Friday as firefighters battled to surround it before winds kicked up.

The 200-acre blaze erupted Thursday afternoon in the Santa Ana River bottom and spread to the Jurupa Valley neighborhood of Riverside County.

At its peak, the fire downed power lines and burned near a residential area, prompting a call for voluntary evacuations. That order was lifted and electricity was restored by Friday morning, county fire officials said.

The fire surged through tinder-dry brush and palm trees in the riverbed, but 200 firefighters, aided by water-dropping helicopters, had reduced it mainly to hotspots by Friday morning, although dry palm trees continued to erupt in fire occasionally, throwing out showers of sparks.

Although morning winds were calm, the National Weather Service forecast dry weather with winds gusts of up to 35 mph possible through late afternoon.

On Thursday, a backyard trailer went up in flames about a quarter-mile from the fire lines in a neighborhood where embers were flying, but fire officials couldn't immediately say whether the wildfire embers sparked it.

No injuries were reported.