Sandalwood Fire: Firefighters Fully Contain 1,000-Acre Blaze That Destroyed Calimesa Community

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The Sandalwood Fire leaves several homes destroyed at a mobile home park in Calimesa on Oct. 10, 2019. (Credit: KTLA)

The Sandalwood Fire leaves several homes destroyed at a mobile home park in Calimesa on Oct. 10, 2019. (Credit: KTLA)

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Firefighters had the fatal Sandalwood Fire 100% contained Monday evening as they continued to battle the blaze that destroyed dozens of residences in Calimesa and prompted the evacuation of hundreds of people, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

Authorities said the fire ignited when a garbage truck driver dumped burning trash in the area of Calimesa Boulevard and Sandalwood Drive Thursday afternoon, and the flames spread to nearby vegetation and into the Calimesa Mobile Home Park.

The blaze scorched 1,011 acres, or 1.58 square miles, as firefighters worked to extinguish the wind-driven blaze for four days.

An 89-year-old woman, Lois Arvickson, and one other unidentified person were found dead in their burned homes, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said.

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

The spot where a garbage truck dumped a burning load, sparking the Sandalwood Fire that destroyed several residences in Calimesa on Oct. 10, 2019. (Credit: KTLA)
The spot where a garbage truck dumped a burning load, sparking the Sandalwood Fire that destroyed several residences in Calimesa on Oct. 10, 2019. (Credit: KTLA)

All evacuation orders were lifted Monday morning, but fire officials said the Villa Calimesa Mobile Home Park remains uninhabitable and closed due to unsafe conditions, according to Cal Fire.

Cal Fire urged residents to be cautious returning home to the area north of mobile park, and warned that gas services were interrupted for the South Mesa Mobile Home Park Sunday.

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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