Controlled SR-78 Burn Leads to Large Brush Fire

The fire began as a prescribed burn, but then spread beyond the limits

By Monica Garske
|  Sunday, May 26, 2013  |  Updated 6:58 PM PDT
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Controlled Burn Sparks Brush Fire

Brandi Powell

A controlled burn near SR-78 in San Felipe spread into a 1,800-acre fire Thursday.

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Controlled Burn Began in Windy Conditions

What began as a controlled burn by Cal Fire in the San Felipe area led to a 1,500-acre brush fire that spread far beyond the intended fire boundaries. The National Weather Service says conditions were already windy during the burn, but Cal Fire says there was a sudden shift in winds, which turned the controlled burn into a full-fledge vegetation fire. NBC 7's Brandi Powell reports.
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A controlled burn near Highway 78 and the S2 Scissors Crossing marker spread beyond the prescribed plan Thursday, leading to a large fire, Cal Fire officials confirmed.

The fire sparked near the San Felipe area, east of Julian. California Highway Patrol officials say the S2/S22 is about eight miles from the fire.

By Sunday night, Cal Fire officials said the blaze had scorched 2,781 acres and was 100 percent contained. Three firefighters had sustained minor injuries, officials said.

When the fire began burning outside intended boundaries, officials immediately called for additional resources to assist with the increased acreage, including air tankers and helicopters.

Lakeside Fire and Heartland Fire were among the many agencies that sent crews to help battle the San Felipe blaze. Additional water tenders were also requested. The water district opened the well on Highway 79 to fire crews for water supply.

CHP officials shut down S2 and Highway 78. Officials said smoke was visible from the Shelter Valley and Julian area on Thursday. No structures were threatened in the brush fire.

Cal Fire officials said a major unexpected wind shift caused the Felipe Fire to burn outside the containment boundaries. The National Weather Service said conditions were windy before the controlled burn even began.

By Saturday, S2 had reopened to traffic as fire crews continued to get as handle on the blaze.

Cal Fire officials say a total of 911 fire personnel and 33 fire crews have assisted throughout the San Felipe Fire. A total of 73 fire engines, eight bulldozers and 17 water tenders have also been utilized.

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