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Wildfires burn hundreds of acres across Inland Empire

Wildfires burn hundreds of acres across Inland Empire
Firefighters in Riverside County battle the Jameson Fire Sunday. (CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department)

A fast-moving wildfire threatening homes in Riverside County on Sunday grew to at least 1,350 acres around midnight, officials said.

Dubbed the Opera fire, the blaze was reported at about 3:45 p.m. in a field in Highgrove, a community between San Bernardino and Riverside, according to the Riverside County Fire Department. It's unclear what sparked the fire.

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Over the next six hours, the fire grew from 30 acres to about 1,200. By midnight, it had swept across 1,350 acres, with officials saying the blaze was 25% contained. Fifteen homes were in danger of being damaged or destroyed as of midnight, officials said.

More than 125 firefighters were trying to control the fire with air tankers, helicopters and ground crews. At one point, civilian drones brought aerial firefighting to a halt.

Whipped by strong wind, the flames were initially posed a threat to radio towers on Box Springs Mountain and a warehouse on Palmyrita Avenue, but no structural losses were reported.

About 20 miles south in Temescal Valley, another wildfire was reported about 6:30 p.m. in the hills around large housing subdivisions.

Called the Jameson fire, the blaze had burned about 15 acres in the 23200 block of Jameson Road, about one mile west of the 15 Freeway, according to the Riverside County Fire Department. Small spot fires had ignited palm trees and foliage near several homes, according to aerial video of the fire broadcast by KNBC-TV.

The news station's images showed fire trucks fanning out across neighborhoods, trying to douse the flames. One resident was seen using a garden hose to spray water on burning palm trees in a backyard.

Fire officials said they had stopped the blaze's advance around 9:30 p.m., and as of midnight, it remained at 15 acres in size. Officials said no homes were in danger.

In San Bernardino County, firefighters were also battling a vegetation fire in the Cajon Pass near the northbound 15 Freeway. The Tower fire had spread to 200 acres and was 20% contained as of 7:30 p.m., according to San Bernardino National Forest officials.

In an unincorporated area of Temecula, the 5-acre Rosa fire was reported about 2 p.m. amid avocado fields and heavy vegetation, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

More than 100 firefighters had responded to the Rosa fire, and fire officials said air crews dumped retardant around the perimeter.

By 6:30 p.m., the Rosa fire was fully contained; the cause was under investigation.

Twitter: @MattHjourno

UPDATES:

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May 1, 5:50 a.m.: This article was updated with additional details about the Opera and Jameson fires.

9:20 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details on the growth of the fires.

7:30 p.m.: This article was updated with details on the Jameson fire.

This article was originally published at 6:30 p.m.

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