THERMAL, CALIF. — A fire broke out at the Desert Mobile Home Park on Monday, destroying six trailers, severely damaging two others and leaving eight families homeless, according to Riverside County fire officials.
Firefighters were called to the park, often referred to as "Duroville," about 12:50 p.m. Flames quickly spread to five other trailers in the densely packed park near 66th Avenue, west of State Route 86 that houses about 4,000 people, mostly workers on nearby farms.
About 120 trailers were evacuated as 30 firefighters struggled to douse the blaze and keep it from spreading, said Cheri Patterson, spokeswoman for the county fire department. The cause is under investigation, she said.
The Red Cross is offering assistance to those affected.
The ramshackle park, on the Torres Martinez reservation, is considered illegal and has been threatened with closure by the Bureau of Indian Affairs because it doesn't offer tenants government-approved leases. The facility's owner, Harvey Duro, could not be reached for comment.
Tenants say much of the basic plumbing and electrical wiring is haphazard in the park.
It has also been cited in the past for violations of water and sewage standards by the Environmental Protection Agency, which also says that illegal dumping goes on inside.
Duroville is one of five illegal trailer parks on the reservation, according to the BIA.