Sandalwood Fire: 2nd Death Reported as Containment Grows to 68% in 1,000-Acre Blaze That Destroyed Calimesa Community
Another body was found inside a burned Calimesa mobile home as firefighters battled the more than 1,000-acre Sandalwood Fire, bringing the death toll up to two people, authorities said Saturday.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said the unidentified body was found when officers were trying to evacuate the homes Friday evening.
Firefighters raised containment of the fatal blaze up to 68% Saturday evening a they continued battling the fire that destroyed dozens of residences in Calimesa, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
The fire has consumed 823 acres as of Saturday morning, officials said.
Authorities said the blaze was ignited when a garbage truck driver dumped burning trash in the area of Calimesa Boulevard and Sandalwood Drive at around 2 p.m. Thursday, and the flames spread to nearby vegetation and into the Calimesa Mobile Home Park, where an 89-year-old woman was found dead in her home. Authorities identified her as Lois Arvickson.
A total of 74 structures were destroyed in the fire, five were moderately damaged and 11 sustained minor damage, according to fire officials.
The cause of death for both victims is still under investigation and no additional information was available.
More than 500 homes were evacuated Thursday, but some residents were allowed to return by Friday night. Villa Calimesa Mobile Home Park residents were still under evacuation orders Saturday.
Cal Fire urged residents to be cautious returning home to the area north of mobile park, and warned that gas service was interrupted for the South Mesa Mobile Home Park.
Community members can call the Sandalwood Fire hotline at 951-940-6985 for updated information. To report people who are missing or unaccounted for in the fire, call the sheriff’s dispatch non-emergency line at 951-776-1099.
Other fires in Riverside County
While firefighters battled the Sandalwood Fire, two other blazes were almost completely contained in Riverside County.
The Wolf Fire, burning in South Highland Springs, about 17 miles southeast of Calimesa, was about 100% contained at 75 acres Saturday evening, Cal Fire Riverside said.
The Reche Fire, which was reported in the area of Reche Canyon Road and Reche Vista the same day, was 97% contained Saturday evening and remained stable in size at 350 acres.
All blazes erupted on Thursday as powerful Santa Ana winds swept through Southern California, fanning several wildfires.