Wildfire Continues to Burn in Cleveland National Forest

Helitanker Dropping Water on a Wildfire

Photo: Getty Images

TRABUCO CANYON (CNS) - Firefighters worked through the night and this morning, monitoring and constructing containment lines in order to limit the damage of a wildfire that broke out in the Cleveland National Forest near the Riverside-Orange County line that has consumed approximately 553 acres.

Overnight, fire crews observed little fire activity while constructing containment lines. Ground crews assisted by bulldozers will work to extend those lines Thursday and utilize three water-dropping helicopters to assist extinguishing hot spots. Air tankers were also on stand-by to respond if needed.

The wildfire has not threatened any homes or other structures so far, fire authorities said.

The Jim Fire broke out at approximately 11:20 a.m. Wednesday in the Trabuco Ranger District in the Holy Jim Canyon area, according to an incident report from the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. U.S. Forest Service firefighters responded with fire engines, hand crews and air resources, assisted by the Orange County Fire Authority and Cal Fire resources.

The fire started in a drainage bottom and spread uphill, according to the coordinating group.

A Riverside County Fire Department strike team, consisting of about 30 personnel, assembled in South Corona on Wednesday to assist with the fire, while the San Diego and Los Angeles County fire departments sent air assets.

Around 250 firefighters have been assigned to battle the wildfire. It was about 15% contained as of Thursday morning.

``We're expecting rain later tonight and tomorrow,'' Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi said Thursday, adding that cooler temperatures and the humidity will help firefighters gain more ground.

One firefighter was injured Wednesday by a bee sting, but was back on the line Thursday, Concialdi said.

The blaze sent a thick plume of smoke into the air, visible across most of Orange and Riverside counties, and in northern San Diego County.

That prompted a flurry of 911 calls, many originating from Lake Elsinore and Corona. The Corona Fire Department posted statements on social media assuring residents that the vegetation fire is ``not a threat to Corona.''

The OCFA posted similar messages, insisting the flames were not presenting a threat to Orange County.

While no structures were being threatened by the flames, the blaze was initially moving slowly toward the complex of radio/communication towers atop Santiago Peak. Crews on the scene reported that flames in that area had died down by mid-afternoon.

The fire was burning near the scene of the 2018 Holy Fire that scorched more than 23,000 acres and forced evacuations in multiple communities.

The cause of the Jim Fire was unknown, but was under investigation by the Forest Service.

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