DUI suspected in solo-vehicle crash that started Gilman Springs Rd fire

UPDATED: Friday, Sept. 28, 8:30 p.m.

See original story below.

MORENO VALLEY — According to a Cal Fire Battalion Chief at the scene of today’s fire on Gilman Springs Rd., Cal Fire released the roadway to be reopened at 8:15 p.m.

It was still not known if the driver who caused the vegetation fire after crashing along the side of the road was determined to be under the influence, as CHP’s investigation is ongoing.


UPDATED: Friday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m.

See original story below.

MORENO VALLEY — CHP and CalTrans have pushed the current closure of Gilman Springs Rd to the 60 Freeway to the north, while the closure at Bridge St. to the south remains in effect. Officials have not stated when the closures will be lifted.

Cal Fire updated that 45 firefighters from eight engine companies, with coordinated assistance from two air tankers, two bulldozers, and two water tenders, halted the fire’s advance at five acres.

Firefighters are now in overhaul stage and are expected to remain at the scene for another few hours, according to Cal Fire spokesperson April Newman.

CHP has not yet released any information regarding the original solo-vehicle crash that reportedly led to tonight’s fire and their investigation is ongoing at the scene.

This is a developing story that will be updated as new information is available.

A car is seen burning after catching fire and starting a vegetation fire off Gilman Springs Rd earlier this evening. Syndra Ellen Gomez photo

Original Story

MORENO VALLEY — Officials are at the scene of a solo-vehicle, suspected DUI crash involving a sedan that left the roadway and later caught fire. The vehicle blaze quickly spread to area vegetation, which is now burning near the old Quail Ranch Golf Course, off Gilman Springs Rd.

Officials have called for the closure of Gilman Springs between Alessandro Blvd. and Bridge St. Firefighters are mounting an aggressive attack in an attempt to halt the fire’s rapid advance, but winds of 9 to 10 miles per hour are hindering firefighter’s efforts to corral the growing wildland fire.


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California Highway Patrol was dispatched to the area shortly after 4:30 p.m., after receiving reports of a vehicle that had run off the side off Gilman Springs Rd. 911 callers reported the vehicle had been driving erratically just before it left the roadway and that the driver was possibly intoxicated.

According to 911 callers, the driver of a sedan was driving recklessly and possibly intoxicated when his vehicle left the roadway. William McCown photo

Witnesses later reported from the scene that the driver appeared and smelled intoxicated, was stumbling around outside his vehicle, and could barely stand without help.

One witness who happened to photograph the driver outside the wrecked car later said, “This guy and his female passenger were so drunk they could not even walk let alone drive.”

It was not yet known if the driver was confirmed to be intoxicated or possibly suffering from an unknown medical condition.

The first arriving officer located a black sedan that had run off the roadway. The officer advised another vehicle had possibly run the sedan off the roadway and that he would be checking the area for the vehicle.

A few minutes later, 911 callers began reporting that a car off the roadway that had caught fire and that the fire was quickly spreading to area vegetation. Additional resources were quickly dispatched to the scene with Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire and Soboba Fire Departments, and other emergency agencies all soon headed to the area.

Several motorists, witnesses, and good Samaritans pulled over and some were seen attempting to use small, handheld fire extinguishers to knock down the flames, but the wind-fueled fire quickly grew too large to continue fighting without water and the intense heat pushed the witnesses back.

Fire apparatus began arriving at the scene a few minutes later, as motorists were hastily making U-Turns on the two lane rural highway and heading away from the growing blaze. Thick smoke could soon be seen billowing into the sky from as far away as Calimesa and Yucaipa to the north, Moreno Valley and Perris to the west, and throughout the San Jacinto Valley to the south.

Officials called for the closure of Gilman Springs shortly after 5 p.m., while firefighters continued battling the still growing blaze. As of 5:21 p.m., CHP was still working to coordinate the closures and had requested additional resources to the scene to assist with road closures throughout the area.

At 6:16 p.m., a CHP incident log indicated that the ongoing fire was causing many people from throughout the area to call 911 and report a brush fire in the area.

Cal Fire has not yet provided any estimate of when the wildland fire might be contained.

This is a developing story that will be updated as new information is available.


Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 47, recently moved to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 14 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.