The Riverside County Board of Supervisors today allocated $500,000 for work to restore vegetation on private land and shore up hillsides left barren by an August wildfire west of Murrieta that was ignited by a county-operated vehicle.
The 350-acre "Volcano Fire" started on the afternoon of Aug. 1 near the intersection of Tenaja and Via Volcano roads, where a county mower cutting weeds apparently threw sparks, touching off the blaze.
One home was destroyed by the flames, which came perilously close to several others. The fire charred hillsides throughout the unincorporated community of La Cresta, prompting evacuations and a massive response by the county fire department, which fully contained the brusher the following morning.
The county called the damage a "tragedy," and a few weeks later Supervisor Bob Buster initiated an effort to help property owners impacted by the fire.
Since that time, the Transportation and Land Management Agency, along with the Department of Human Resources' Risk Management Division, have dispatched personnel to the impact zone to assess landscape damage on private and public property.
Site visits have been made on at least 11 residential properties, whose owners have requested county assistance with erosion control measures, according to the TLMA.
County officials said other property damage claims are under review.
TLMA documents underscored the urgency of fortifying terrain "before the onset of heavy rains."
In its 4-0 vote, with Chairman John Tavaglione absent, the board not only set aside funding for the restoration work, but also authorized bidding to begin among prospective contractors.
The Clerk of the Board will advertise the project between now and Dec. 19, after which contractors' bids will be reviewed and a company selected, pending board approval.