A wildfire that broke out in the Cleveland National Forest near the Riverside-Orange County line was 50% contained Thursday, holding steady at 553 acres.
“There’s been no growth,” Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi told City News Service. “Crews did great work all day in rugged terrain. We’re expecting to expand containment further by (Friday) morning.”
Concialdi said that about 250 U.S. Forest Service, OCFA and Riverside County firefighters continue to work to encircle the brush fire. He anticipated that the wet weather moving into the region Thursday night and Friday would accelerate the containment effort.
Crews assisted by bulldozers have been working to widen the containment zone, relying on three water-dropping helicopters and assorted Cal Fire air tankers during the daylight hours.
No homes or other structures have been threatened.
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 the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. USFS firefighters responded with fire engines, hand crews and air resources.
The fire started in a drainage bottom and spread uphill, according to officials.
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 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.
The blaze was initially moving slowly toward the complex of radio and communication towers atop Santiago Peak. Crews reported that flames in that area had died down by mid-afternoon Wednesday.
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.
San Juan Fire
Meanwhile, a brush fire that erupted alongside Ortega Highway near San Juan Capistrano Thursday and scorched nine acres was 90% contained.
Firefighters were alerted to the blaze at noon near Hot Spring Canyon Road, Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Greg Barta said.
The blaze — dubbed the San Juan Fire — burned nine acres, down from previous estimates of 10 to 15 acres, said OCFA Capt. Steve Concialdi.
Ortega Highway was temporarily closed in both directions in the area to accommodate responding fire crews, but was later reopened to traffic.
Crews managed to stop the spread of the fire and had the blaze 90% contained as of about 7:20 p.m., Concialdi said. Firefighters were set to remain on scene throughout the night to continue dousing the blaze.
There was no immediate word on what sparked the blaze.