A fire that broke out Thursday in the Santa Ana River bottom near downtown Riverside blackened 68 acres within about three hours, threatening homes on several streets, where mandatory evacuations were implemented.
The non-injury brush fire was reported at 10:25 a.m. just northeast of McLean-Anza Narrows Park, according to the Riverside Fire Department.
More than 20 engine crews from the city and Riverside County, as well as several Cal Fire hand crews, numbering about 100 personnel, were sent to the location and encountered flames in thick brush along the river bottom.
The blaze steadily consumed vegetation to the northeast, eventually reaching a neighborhood abutting the Santa Ana River Trail.
Residents on Old Ranch Road and Park Cliff Court were placed under the mandatory evacuation, issued shortly after 1 p.m.
Riverside fire personnel requested two Cal Fire air tankers and a water-dropping helicopter to make runs on the brusher, which was 0% contained as of 2 p.m.
Firefighters’ progress encircling the blaze was hampered by the dense foliage, according to reports from the scene.
The location is dotted with homeless encampments, but the cause of the fire was not immediately known.