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Cutting torch sparks Riverside County fire grass fire

June 17, 2010 |  8:48 am

A cutting torch being used at a construction site near the 91 Freeway sparked a fire that burned 46 acres of brush, authorities said Thursday.

“Someone was torch-cutting near the freeway construction area,” said Capt. Fernando Herrera, a spokesman for the Riverside County Fire Department. “They were putting in large cement pillars. ... and cutting some metal that ignited the grass.”

The blaze that started about 2 p.m. Wednesday near the city of Corona was fanned by 17 mph winds. At its height, more than 200 firefighters were engaged in combating it, Herrera said.

Ground crews were assisted by two air tankers and three water-dropping helicopters.

The fire was contained by Wednesday evening, and “full control is expected by this evening,” Herrera said. There were no reports of injuries, authorities said.

-- Ann M. Simmons

Photo: A crew climbs a steep slope just south of the 91 Freeway to tackle a brush fire that broke out Wednesday afternoon just west of Corona. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times