A brush fire burning along the San Diego river in Santee Tuesday produced thick, black smoke and flames that came close to two apartment complexes, officials said.
Heartland firefighters responded to Carlton Oaks Drive and Carlton Hills Drive around 3:30 p.m. and found a fire sparked in dense trees and brush.
The fire burned near a row of homes along Willowgrove Avenue as well as the Carlton Oaks Golf Course with smoke drifting onto the course.
Officials said the fire came close to two nearby apartment complexes.
Firefighters were having a difficult time accessing the fire on foot. Helicopters were spotted picking up water from Santee Lakes and the golf course water hazards to help fight the flames.
San Diego County Sheriff's Copter 12 responded to help with air drops. Deputies in patrol cars could be seen driving along the course route.
No evacuations were issued, but nearby residents said they were ready to go if the order was given.
“We’ve been here since ’06, so we were with the ’07 wildfires here, and we still have our bag ready to go,” Cortena Blackburn said.
The fire burned an estimated four acres. No injuries were reported.
Residents said there is a homeless camp in the riverbed that has had problems in the past. However, officials have not released the cause of the fire.
The San Diego River flows into Sycamore Canyon just north of State Route 52.
Santee Fire Department Chief Richard Mattick said fire season may arrive months earlier than normal this year.
"Fire season is really already upon us here," Mattick said. "We've seen that, having a hot week this week, high winds and everything, that's gonna continue to dry out anything out there that still has any moisture in it."
"I've seen no moisture in the horizon for us, so at this point it's going to be a very, very severe fire season we're looking at," he said."
San Diego County was under a high wind warning until Thursday at 5 p.m.
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