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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.

EVO August 01, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Ya, what a sweet house that was destroyed.. Very sad to lose all your possessions.. Firefighters couldn't do a thing to save that house.. Whatever is left they destroyed with water.. Sry to the owners..
B dubb August 01, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Get some 94
The Gorilla August 01, 2012 at 11:27 PM
It doesn't take higher taxes to support quality fire protection Jeff .We could pay much less and have the same protection. Our High taxes get wasted on disability cheats and welfare to illegals
The Gorilla August 01, 2012 at 11:29 PM
I lived on Avenida La Cresta two years ago. I hope those horses are not freaking out!
Hilarious August 02, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Nice! A family loses a home and things they'll never be able to replace, and you recite wingnut rhetoric. Enjoy your Chick-fil-A all alone in your bunker.
Beach mom August 02, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Helicopters and planes going over my house all afternoon. The sky here looks clear now compared to hours earlier. Yeah firefighters!!!
Martha L. Bridges August 02, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Great to have current updates from the Patch. Thanks to Toni and her staff for keeping us up-to-date on the latest news. Thank you and the firefighters too.
Judd Rake August 02, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Thank you government and the firefighters who stand firm and protect us. Thats why I am all for giving in my taxes. Yeah to everyone involved. Thanks Patch. Good job.
Judd Rake August 02, 2012 at 12:35 AM
I agree Hilarious......these conservatives can't spend one post not trying to force their ideology and intolerance down our throats,
Diana August 02, 2012 at 12:38 AM
FYI Toni is on vacation until next week she is not the one reporting.
Susimom August 02, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Not to change the subject ( sorry) but has anyone heard about the dead man at Circle K Grand Ave? His bike is mangled(assuming he was hit) but the body is on a gurney, no one is standing with it, the ambulance is parked right next to him and the police are about 30 feet away from him. Why don't they put him in the ambulance out of sight? Sad.
Susimom August 02, 2012 at 12:56 AM
He's been there for at least 45 minutes?! Open the rig and put him in!
Martha L. Bridges August 02, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Diana, Vacation or not, Toni is the editor and I see she is logging in and posting her support for those impacted by the fire.
Teller of Truth August 02, 2012 at 03:14 AM
Martha, I heard that the Volcano gods were lookin for your house. Is that true?
Teller of Truth August 02, 2012 at 03:16 AM
An investigation is still on going........
Teller of Truth August 02, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Sadly he is gone.
Linda August 02, 2012 at 04:21 AM
Diana, Thank you for giving us up to date information on the fire. You have done a great job. So sad for people who lost their homes. Hopefully their animals are safe as nothing much was mentioned about an effort to get them out of the path. The only thing that I would have added for us who live in the area is 'which direction is the fire going?' If in its erratic path there is a discernable direction? There's still some of us here who are trying to figure it out with the internet weather channels which say zilch. If you can help, would appreciate it! Again, Good work whether or not Toni was listening in. You're the one that, along with all the great fire fighters and pilots, came through.
Ken Mayes August 02, 2012 at 05:25 AM
Kind of ironic that a county worker clearing brush for fire control reasons may have started this fire.
Constant Comment August 02, 2012 at 05:40 AM
Yep, he sure cleared it alright! Maybe they'll have a water truck follow them next time?
Mike August 02, 2012 at 05:42 AM
The county needs to make this right for those folks who lost homes and property.
Jorge Gutierrez August 02, 2012 at 07:40 AM
If you look up douche bag in the dictionary, you'll find a picture of "Bill"
Susan Marsh August 02, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Who clears brush in August without fire extinguisher? A water truck following would be even better. Things are so dry up here blowing on the weeds could start a fire. Thoughts and prayers are with Synder family, can't imagine what it must be like.
Diana August 02, 2012 at 02:51 PM
@Mattha OMG, what was I thinking, I forgot that only you know all and see all, I happen to have sent an email to Toni and was responded that she is on vacation and then I got another email from another Patch staff member regarding the update on the fire. You really need to get over yourself Lady.
Diana August 02, 2012 at 02:55 PM
@Linda, thank you so much, how tragic. I happen to have a good friend that is the Captain for the forestry and directs the air support for the entire USA. Fire is always tragic and sad and we are fortunate that our Fire Departments respond quickly when a fire breaks out, I did no that the Riverside Animal Control were there at the scene in case they were needed. Thank God no other homes were lost or lives were lost. Kudos Firefighters you all rock!
Nicole Mosieur August 02, 2012 at 02:57 PM
I've been thru the Ramona 2007 fires and lost everything. I now live in La Cresta and am thankful it didn't come that close again to me. I live on Avenida Bonita. I understand how the family who lost there home feels. My heart goes out to them.
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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