East County Fires 100% Contained: Officials

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    NEWSLETTERS

    In Ranchita and San Felipe, people who tried to stick it out, despite evacuation orders, have now been forced to leave. NBC 7's Danya Bacchus reports. (Published Thursday, Aug 16, 2012)

    The wildfires that have threatened several communities in rural San Diego County throughout the week are now 100 percent contained, Cal Fire announced on Sunday morning.

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    Ranchita Residents Pack Up and Go

    [DGO] Ranchita Residents Pack Up and Go
    In Ranchita and San Felipe, people who tried to stick it out, despite evacuation orders, have now been forced to leave. NBC 7's Danya Bacchus reports. (Published Thursday, Aug 16, 2012)

    Crews refer to the five lightning-sparked fires that burned in the East County as the Vallecito Lightning Complex.

    As of 7:30 a.m. Sunday, the fires that burned nearly 23,000 acres were 100 percent contained by firefighters.

    The complex consisted of two main fires. The Wilson Fire, which burned nearly 12,000 acres, was 100 percent contained by Saturday, Cal Fire officials said. The Stewart Fire, which burned 10,632 acres, was 95 percent contained Saturday.

    Firefighters made significant progress on containing the fires over the last few nights due, in part, to weather conditions that brought relatively higher humidity and slighty cooler temperatures. Evacuation orders for residents in Ranchita and San Felipe were lifted.

    On Friday, Cal Fire said the fire spread in the Vallecito Lightning Complex had ceased and the fire lines were holding. Crews stayed at the scene to clean-up and patrol the fire area. A heavy demobilization of resources soon followed.

    No homes were burned, as engine crews remained in the Ranchita community for structure defense throughout the duration of the fire. A total of 1,552 firefighters were assigned to the Vallecito Lightning Complex over the course of the fire. Four firefighters were injured battling the flames.

    Earlier this week, firefighters said completing the fire line in the rocky terrain took them longer than expected.

    There was also a substantial risk of thunderstorm downdrafts in the fire area. Officials said those winds had the potential to cause extreme fire behavior and posed challenges for fire crews as the storms passed.

    The Creek Hollow Ranch was made available for horses and other livestock of evacuees, however, according to a ranch hand, nobody has brought their animals here. He says the county brought generators and lights here two days ago, but because no one was using it, they packed up and left.

    Eventually, Highway 78 was reopened to traffic and access to San Felipe was opened to residents. S-2 between Scissors Crossing and Highway 79 remained closed through Thursday but had reopened by Friday evening, officials confirmed. By Saturday, all remaining road closures in the surrounding area were lifted, Cal Fire reported.

    The original group of fires included the Wilson Fire, Stewart Fire and Cooper Fire located near Scissors Crossing, the Wynola Fire and the Vallecito Fire that burned southeast of Julian.

    Meanwhile, in Riverside County, firefighters continued to make good progress towards containment for the Buck Fire. Eventually, crews report the fire was 100 percent surrounded.

    That wildfire destroyed four structures and burned 2,681 acres in the area east of Temecula.

    With approximately 1200 lightning strikes measured between Saturday and Monday, fire crews have been keeping an eye on the storm systems as a potential threat for more wildfires.

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