A brush fire started by construction equipment alongside the Moreno Valley (60) Freeway near Beaumont Friday scorched roughly five acres and prompted a brief closure of the freeway before it was stopped.
The non-injury blaze was reported at 12:55 p.m. adjacent to the westbound 60 at Jack Rabbit Trail, in a sparsely populated, rugged area known as the Badlands, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
Officials said a backhoe digging in a construction zone likely sparked the fire.
Nine engine crews and two hand crews, numbering about 80 personnel, were sent to the location and encountered flames moving slowly to the north in medium vegetation, according to the fire department.
A battalion chief immediately requested the closure of the freeway for public safety. California Highway Patrol officers shut down all westbound lanes for nearly an hour, turning traffic back toward Beaumont. The eastbound side was closed for a shorter duration.
Two Cal Fire air tankers and a water-dropping helicopter made runs on the brusher until the forward rate was stopped shortly before 2 p.m.
Full containment of the blaze was not expected until 6 p.m., according to reports from the scene.