UPDATE: 'Volcano' Fire Caused by County Weed Abatement Worker

The blaze, right outside of La Cresta, was mapped at 350 acres and was 75 percent contained as of 9:47 p.m. Wednesday.

Updated at 9:55 p.m. Aug. 1

The 350-acre "Volcano" fire burning near La Cresta just west of Murrieta was caused by a transportation worker mowing weeds, according to an emailed statement.

"Riverside County has been notified by fire officials that it appears the Volcano Fire was accidentally caused by a county Transportation Department worker mowing weeds alongside Tenaja Road," said Riverside County spokesperson Ray Smith.

"The county is providing its full cooperation as Fire Department officials continue their investigation and their efforts to bring the fire under control. Each year, the county works to reduce the chance of fire by clearing brush and weeds along roadsides," Smith continued.

"The fire is a tragedy for the residents whose homes are threatened and whose lives and families are being disrupted. County officials will do everything in their power to assist them."

The blaze Broadcast footage showed a large residence on fire on Valle Vista, and sheriff's radio broadcasts also indicated a second home was ablaze at 39439 Valle Vista.

The fire that was threatening the multi-million dollar homes was 75 percent contained as of 9:47 p.m. Wednesday. Three firefighters were treated for minor injuries, according to CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department. Crews were expected to remain on scene throughout the night.

Early on, residents were voluntarily evacuating streets including Corte Providencia, Valle Vista and surrounding, according to Riverside County fire Capt. Roberts of Lake Elsinore Station No. 94, though no mandatory evacuations were ordered.

Red Cross opened an evacuation center at , 42200 Nighthawk Way in Murrieta, for residents affected by the fire. But the was closed as of about 6 p.m.

The "Volcano" fire was initially reported at 11:25 a.m. near Tenaja Road and Via Volcano. It spread at a moderate rate of speed, according to Melody Hendrickson, a spokesperson for CAL FIRE.

There had been potential for the fire to spread to 1,500 acres, according to reports from the scene.

Concerned residents lined the streets as structures were threatened in Tenaja, Santa Rosa West and La Cresta.

The fire jumped Valle Vista in Santa Rosa West around 1:25 p.m. At the time, homes that line Valle Vista were immediately threatened, according to resident reports from the scene received by Patch.

The area is home to many horses, and the community was on high alert. Flames were licking up against properties that overlook Sylvan Meadows, an area that is popular for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department had been situating personnel in the event evacuations became necessary, according to reports from the scene received by Patch.

At least 233 firefighters from CAL FIRE/Riverside, CAL FIRE/San Diego, the U.S. Forest Service, Murrieta Fire Department, Pechanga Fire Department, Los Angeles County Fire Department, March ARB, San Bernardino County Fire Department, and USFS - Cleaveland were combatting the fire on the ground.

Four helicopters and six air tankers were also deployed.

Clinton Keith Road remained shut down from Avenida La Cresta to Tenaja Road, California Highway Patrol reported. The roadway was open to residents with a valid ID only.

Check back with Patch for updates.

—Toni McAllister and City News Service contributed to this report.

The Gorilla August 02, 2012 at 05:15 PM
It's the County Susan. Who else wold be dumb like that in August? I am sure the Snyders and others are attorney shopping now.
liss August 02, 2012 at 09:45 PM
looks like it started up again
Scott Tucker August 02, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Yeah, they had a rekindle on Division Yankee. They have 2 copters, Air Attack 310, and two tankers on it. It was threatening some houses for a bit but the firefighters and copters took care of that problem. 310 is still over the fire.
Scott Tucker August 02, 2012 at 10:34 PM
One other thing for those of you that live in areas like La Cresta. There are generally three reasons a house catches, although under any circumstances a house can catch. One is flammables such as wood piles and similar stuff. The second is radiant heat coming through the windows, even if they're closed. Open drapes and window coverings to minimize this, although if it gets hot enough it won't help much. The third, and what likely got the Snyder's house is embers getting blown and trapped up under the eaves of the house. These can burn right through to the attic, and once that happens the house is gone. Many homeowners in fire prone areas have sealed their eaves with sheet metal to minimize this threat. Of course, you should have a defensible space around your home. I think the current weed abatement plan calls for 300 feet, but I'm not positive.
Teller of Truth August 02, 2012 at 10:43 PM
Great information Scott!


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