Fire erupts near homeless camp in San Jacinto

Cal Fire chopper, pumper trucks extinguish blaze threatening homes in Soboba River wash

Photo by Joyce Miller
Residents watching the Cal Fire operation were duly impressed with the pilot’s skill in navigating the helicopter through the trees.

■ Dennis Fletcher / Contributed

San Jacinto residents got ringside seats to witness Cal Fire specialists show how it’s done when a brush fire broke out Monday, Sept. 25, in the Soboba River wash that runs along the southern edge of Soboba Springs Road near State Street.
A local resident saw the fire around noon near a homeless encampment and called it in. Fire trucks arrived on Soboba Road but had to circle around and take a small dirt road off State Street to gain access to the fire.
The Cal Fire helicopter flew out of Hemet Airport to give everyone a thrill when it siphoned water from the small lake at Country Lakes Manufactured Home Park (formerly Country Lake Mobile Home) at the north end of State Street in San Jacinto. Park residents watched as the chopper pilot made more than 20 trips to the park’s pond to take up water to drop on the fire.
At the scene, Country Lakes Park resident Jon Crawley reported, “I shot some amazing footage of that chopper in action to show my girlfriend when she arrives here later. That chopper pilot put on quite a show for our park residents. I personally witnessed 12 trips to our lake by the chopper and another resident told me he counted at least 21 trips.” He went on, “I was in awe of fire fighters’ skills to marshal at least seven fire trucks into a small part of Soboba wash to extinguish a potentially dangerous fire within hours.”
Joyce Miller, a realtor and resident at Country Lake, told The Chronicle, “I was astounded to see that in less than 25 seconds the water was reloaded into the Cal Fire chopper, and then here it comes flying around for the next drop!” Park Manager Drita Bromle said she was happy that the lake resource at Country Lake provided Cal Fire with a ready supply of water for its fire-fighting chopper to help take down the fire quickly. “Like everyone else,” she reported, “we’re here to serve the community of San Jacinto any way we can.”
At least seven fire trucks stayed on the scene until 6 p.m. to make sure the fire was completely extinguished in some larger smoldering logs and tree trunks. Arson investigators are looking into the cause of the blaze.
Dennis Fletcher is a marketing consultant and freelance writer residing in San Jacinto. He can be reached at

Photo by Joyce Miller
With the brush fire’s smoke as a backdrop, the Cal Fire chopper delivers its flame-quenching payload.
Photo by Joyce Miller
Water in the Country Lake Manufactured Home pond was low, so the chopper was dropping a mixture of mud and water.
Photo by Joyce Miller
Smoke from the fire near a homeless camp in the Soboba River wash could be seen from miles away, and nearby residents worried it could spread to homes.

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