YUCAIPA -- As flames from the Mill Fire reached the edge of his Palermo Court home, Bill Sellers was prepared to leave in case of an emergency.

The fire -- which charred 534 acres after it broke Friday afternoon -- came within feet of the Yucaipa resident's backyard when a field behind his home went up in flames.

"I was home all day when I saw a plume of smoke, and 20 minutes later, the hills were ablaze," he said.

As the flames continued to spread, Sellers kept cows grazing in the smoky field occupied by hosing them down with water as fire crews went to work.

He said the scene outside was loud, a complete opposite from what his quiet neighborhood is like on a daily basis.

"The last big (fire in the area) was in '92," he said.

Once corralled, the cows were moved to an empty field across the street from their former grazing spot by fire crews and friends of their owner, said Drew Scherrer.

The cows seemed content with their temporary home, which sat next to Scherrer's red, farmhouse-style home.

"I saw the fire pretty much raging over there," he said. "I saw smoke in the field ... and then flames."

Scherrer has seen fires go up in the Mill Creek area often, "but I don't think I've ever seen it come this close."

As of Saturday, the fire was 20 percent contained. Containment is expected tonight.


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Around 100 firefighters were still on scene Saturday to mop up hot spots, said Bill Peters, a Cal Fire spokesman.

At its height, more than 250 firefighters from several agencies battled the blaze, which was reported shortly after 2:15 p.m. Friday

"You name it -- they were there," Peters said. "It was an all-hands-on-deck event."

One structure was moderately damaged, he said.

"We're finding a lot of little things that were affected by the fire -- backyard fences and melted trash cans," he said. "They're trying to do an assessment of that, but really the moderate damage was done to the one house."

The cause of the fire remained unknown on Saturday.