Deadly 1,011-Acre Sandalwood Fire in Calimesa Is 86% Contained

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The Sandalwood Fire that set a Calimesa community ablaze was 86% contained Sunday morning, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

The fire engulfed 1,011 acres, or more than 1 1/2 square miles, by 7 a.m. Sunday, three days after the blaze erupted.

The blaze, which destroyed dozens of residences and left two dead, was sparked when a garbage truck driver dumped burning trash near Calimesa Boulevard and Sandalwood Drive at around 2 p.m. Thursday, according to authorities.

The Sandalwood Fire: Before and After

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Fanned by powerful Santa Ana winds, the flames spread to nearby vegetation and into the Villa Calimesa Mobile Home Park, where the two people were found dead.

Residents of Villa Calimesa Mobile Home Park remained under evacuation orders Sunday, authorities said. More than 500 homes were evacuated Thursday, but some residents were allowed to return by Friday night.

Authorities found two bodies in the Calimesa Mobile Home Park as firefighters battled the Sandalwood Fire.  One of the victims was identified as Lois Arvickson, 89.  Authorities have not yet released information on the identity of the second victim.

A total of 74 structures were destroyed in the fire, five more were moderately damaged and 11 sustained minor damage, according to fire officials.

As firefighters battled the Sandalwood Fire, they contained another fire in Riverside County. The Reche Fire, which was reported in the area of Reche Canyon Road and Reche Vista the same day, grew to 350 acres but was 100% contained Sunday morning.

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.

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