Crews Gain Upper Hand on Opera Fire in Riverside; Tower, Jameson Fires Also Burning in SoCal

Crews seem to have gained the upper hand Monday morning on a brush fire that burned more than 1,000 acres and threatened dozens of homes in Riverside over the weekend.

Crews were battling a brush fire in Riverside on April 30, 2017. (Credit: Riverside County Fire Department / Twitter)

The blaze, dubbed the Opera Fire, broke out near Opera Loop and East Palmyrita Avenue about 3:43 p.m. Sunday and grew to 1,350 acres, according to a statement from the Riverside County Fire Department.

By 6 p.m. Monday the fire was about 90 percent contained but still covered the same amount of acreage, fire officials said.

At its height, the fire threatened as many as 60 homes, Riverside fire Capt. Lucas Spelman said.

At about 2 a.m. Monday, crews had gained an upper hand on the blaze, which no longer appeared to be threatening any homes, Fire Department spokesman Tim Odebralski said.

At that point the fire was 60 percent contained and has "stopped progressing," Spelman said.

The wind-driven blaze prompted fire officials to send about 150 firefighters, 55 engine companies and three helicopters to the area to battle the blaze Sunday.

Investigators have not determined an official cause for the fire, but one Riverside resident said the blaze started when he attempted to park near a hiking trail.

“I guess I got in the grass just a little bit and all of a sudden, I see fire, Freddrick Knox said, "I tried to put it out and I looked under my car — my car was on fire. That’s when my leg caught on fire. I used my coat to try and put it out. After a minute I couldn’t do anything so I just got out of the way."

Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames on Knox's car before it was destroyed, but he said it was still a depressing scene.

“I’ve lived in Riverside since 1969. It makes me really sad to see this," he said. "I’ve seen this on TV before but I never thought I’d be part of — the cause of it.”

Meanwhile, firefighters were working to contain two other wildfires that broke out Sunday in Southern California.

The Tower Fire began near Cleghorn and Interstate 15 about 3:55 p.m. and has burned 200 acres in the San Bernardino National Forest, according to the California fire information website.

The blaze was 60 percent contained as of Monday evening.

The cause of the fire was unknown.

Also, the Jameson Fire, which started in Temescal Valley at about 6:30 p.m. Sunday, ultimately burned about 15 acres before it was contained around 7:30 a.m. Monday.