548-Acre Brush Fire Blamed on Weed Cutter

From Times Staff Reports

Weed-cutting equipment caused a brush fire that burned 548 acres in Riverside County this week, investigators said.

The fire, which was fully contained Friday, started Wednesday in Poppet Flats, a mountainous area northeast of Hemet that has ranch-style homes.

Firefighters had the blaze fully contained by 6 p.m. Friday, said Joanne Evans, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry. About 100 firefighters were assigned to remain at the scene overnight to mop up any hot spots, she said.

The fire started when the metal blade of a weed cutter hit a rock and caused sparks that ignited the brush, said Chief James Engel, an investigating officer with the forestry department and Riverside County Fire Department.

The fire caused the temporary evacuation of residents of about a dozen homes, as well as horses and other farm animals, officials said.

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