RIVERSIDE (CNS/FOX 11) - A brush fire that scorched more than 300 acres in the Prado Basin was still burning Sunday, blanketing the Inland Empire with smoke, and sending acrid air as far as the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles.
County fire units and counterparts from Cal Fire/San Bernardino County, the Corona and Pechanga fire departments and the Chino Valley Independent Fire District, about 245 firefighters in all, responded to the scene along with two helicopters and two air tankers,
At the height of the blaze, residents of about 300 homes were ordered to evacuate if they lived along Bluff Street, Homestead Road and Stagecoach Road. It was called the "Highway Fire.''
The American Red Cross opened an evacuation center at Riley Gymnasium in Norco and an evacuation center for horses and other large animals was opened at Ingalls Park in Norco.
By 10 p.m. Saturday, the fire had spread across some 175 acres, fire officials said.
By dawn, crews had cut fire lines around at least 15 percent of the perimeter and by noon, they'd cut it to 25 percent.
The densely vegetated area hadn't burned in decades, fire officials said.
Onshore winds would push the smoke towards Riverside, San Bernardino and the central San Bernardino Mountains. Today's air quality measurements were mostly in the moderate category throughout the Inland Empire, the South Coast Air Quality Management District said.
Smoke was expected to be experienced throughout the four-county air basin, with smoke impacting the southwest, northwest and central portions of the San Bernardino Valley the most.
Los Angeles city and Ventura County firefighters reported getting calls about thick smoke in the western San Fernando and Simi valleys. A helicopter investigated, but determined the smoke was coming from the Highway Fire, 50 miles distant.
The blaze was reported about 6:15 p.m. Saturday near the Corona (71) and Riverside (91) freeways and continued to burn throughout the night.