Firefighters were called out to East County on Wednesday morning to battle a brush fire east of Ramona.
The blaze was reported at 10:30 a.m. in the area of Barona Mesa. By a little after 11 a.m., it had charred 20 acres, according to officials; a half-hour later, estimates of its size were at 75 acres. The smoke plume from the fire was “extremely visible” in Ramona and the surrounding communities, fire officials said.
Paul Pluss owns Jurassic Secret Emu Oils and has a ranch with hundreds of emus. As he stood on the ridge looking at the smoke and the planes dropping retardant, he wasn’t too concerned.
“It doesn’t look like it’s traveling with too much speed,” he said.
Pluss had to evacuate during the Cedar Fire and watched the Witch Creek Fire burn through the same area a few years after that. He said they’ve got a lot more defensible space surrounding their property now.
For Joey Asgeirsson, the fire was close enough, thank you.
The recent transplant from the East Coast is staying with his mother-in-law in Ramona and keeping an eye on the activity going on just a few miles away.
“If they say we’ve got to go, we’ll go,” he said.
By noon, firefighters were gaining control of the fire, but crews were still actively engaged fighting it. A short time later, officials said the Mesa Fire, as they named it, charred a total of 100 acres, adding that its spread had been stopped but that it had not been contained.
Ramona resident Jacque Sherman drove home from work as soon as she heard about the fire.
“We’ve already been through two,” Sherman said.
She said they are prepared with enough food and water supplies and feel their property has enough defensible space.
“We’ve already cleared our property and that’s the biggest thing,” she said.
“During the 2003 fire, when we called the fire department nobody showed up. So it’s nice to see when we call the fire department now, they are “Johnny-on-the-spot.” They know where our houses are,” she said.
Cal Fire assisted the U.S. Forest Service in fighting the fire, which was located in a remote area not far from the El Capitan Reservoir. Four firefighting helicopters were able to fill up at the nearby reservoir to make water drops. Also called in to work the fire were 10 engines, 10 fire crews, four water tenders, two bulldozers and four air tankers.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, authorities said.