The Sandalwood Fire, which threatened several Redlands homes and livestock after destroying about 15 mobile homes in Calimesa, started in the back of a trash truck, which then dumped the load, Cal Fire Riverside confirmed.
The fire that started around 2 p.m. quickly grew to more than 500 acres due to strong Santa Ana winds, threatening homes and forcing evacuations, authorities said.
Heavy smoke and the threat of flames reaching the area forced authorities to evacuate Mesa Middle School. Students were transported to Calimesa Elementary School, in Yucaipa, where they were reunited with parents, authorities said.
According to Cal Fire Riverside, a care center was established at the Norton Younglove Multipurpose Senior center, located at 908 Park Avenue in Calimesa.
The fire has the potential to grow to 1,500 acres, authorities said.
This is a developing story. Check later for more updates.