Airport Fire burns 500 acres, forces closure of 71 Fwy in Corona

The 71 Freeway was shut down in the Corona area Thursday as a 500-acre brush fire sent plumes of smoke into the air.

The Airport Fire was reported around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the 1900 block of Aviation Drive.

The blaze grew from 105 acres at 6:30 a.m. Thursday to 500 acres by 9:40 a.m., according to Cal Fire/ Riverside County Fire Department.

The flames burning in heavy river bottom fuels forced the closure of Highway 71 in both directions from Highway 91 to Highway 83.

Aerial video showed thick smoke billowing over the freeway as firefighters battled the flames Thursday morning.

The blaze broke out while strong winds pummeled Southern California, raising alarms over heightened fire danger and leading to power shutoffs throughout the region.

On Wednesday, fire officials issued an evacuation warning to residents on Big Springs Ct., Rock Ridge Ct., Cheyenne Road, Homestead Road, Holster Street and Lone Tree Street, but the warning has since been lifted.

The Fire Department reminded residents to remain vigilant, saying “conditions can change quickly.”

In neighboring Orange County, a wind-driven brush fire erupted in Silverado Canyon late Wednesday night, burned thousands of acres and forced mandatory evacuations.

Correction: A previous headline provided an incorrect name for the fire. This story has been updated.

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