Hundreds have been forced to evacuate their homes as crews struggle to contain a fast-moving wildfire burning east of San Diego near the border. The wildfire is now in its third day.
As of approximately 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday, the fire was scorching 6,020 acres, or 9.4 square miles, and was 10 percent contained.
A total of 1,550 firefighters from across Southern California are fighting the so-called Border Fire, which started Sunday afternoon as a two-acre fire with slow spread. Cal Fire tweeted the fire had burned 7,500 acres Monday evening. But fire officials said better mapping showed the fire had burned around 6,020 acres on Tuesday.
Several hundred residents living in or near Potrero have fled the fire following mandatory evacuation notices. Eight-hundred structures are threatened. You can find more information on specific evacuations, and shelters, below.
Residents in need of emergency assistance evacuation should call 911.
At 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Cal Fire officials said the wildland fire was five percent contained and holding at 7,500 acres.
Cal Fire officials say their goal is to further contain the fire and stop it from moving forward with more air resources.
Cal Fire officials have issued mandatory evacuation orders for the following areas:
- Community of Potrero
- Homes along Highway 94 between Emory Road and Plaskon Road
- Forest Gate
- Star Ranch
- Cowboy Ranch
- Dog Patch
- Canyon City
- The community of Lake Morena Village, northwest of Campo. Specifically, a two-mile radius around Lake Morena Drive and Oak Drive west of Buckman Springs Road.
Cal Fire said the fire has been moving north and northeast, threatening parts of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, as well as the surrounding communities. The Pacific Crest Trail is closed.
"Firefighters will continue to construct containment lines day and night to slow the growth of the fire eventually stopping the spread of the fire," the Cal Fire incident report on the fire notes.
The community of Potrero was the first to evacuate Sunday afternoon when officials issued the mandatory order. Potrero has a total population of 693 people in 207 units, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2014 American Community Survey.
State Route 94 is closed from State Route 188 to Potrero Valley Road. It is unclear when the road will be open again.
Mountain Health, the only community clinic in Campo and the Mountain Empire Region, has opened up their community center in Campo for displaced residents. The center is located at 31115 CA-94 in Campo.
Evacuees are being directed to Los Coches Creek Middle School, where an overnight shelter was set up. The school is located on 9669 Dunbar Lane in El Cajon.
A previous emergency shelter at Campo Elementary School at 1654 Buckman Springs Road has closed.
Updates on the fire and emergency shelters can be found here.
Residents looking to cool off near the fire can go to the Campo-Morena Village Library at 31356 Highway 94 in Campo. The library was closed Monday but was open as a cool zone from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Find a complete list of cool zones here.
Four outbuildings have been destroyed.
Three firefighters have been injured. One firefighter suffered heat-related injuries while working in triple degree heat, but is expected to be okay. Another firefighter suffered heat-related injuries and another suffered a knee injury.
More than 150 engines and 30 hand crews have been fighting the fire, which moved quickly over the rugged and steep terrain near Potrero, 45 miles east of San Diego, Cal Fire said. Twelve water tenders, six helicopters, four air tankers and seven dozers have also been involved in putting out the fire.
Combined, 1,484 personnel are on scene. That includes personnel from San Diego Gas and Electric, San Diego County Fire, Border patrol, Cal Trans, San Diego Sheriff Department, BLM, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the Red Cross.
Rising, triple digit temperatures and dry conditions have made the fire tough to fight.
"Excessive heat which is uncharacteristic for this time of year, steep terrain, extremely dry vegetation due to many years of drought, difficult access and winds have produced extremely erratic fire behavior making it very difficult for firefighters to mitigate this incident," Cal Fire notes in the Border Fire's incident report.
San Diego Sheriff's officials said 48 of their deputies are assisting with security patrols and traffic controls in the evacuated and fire areas. Two ASTREA Bell 205 fire-rescue helicopters are making water drops; each copter has a 375-gallon belly tank.
Across California, more than 4,700 firefighters are fighting six active wildfires.
The fire broke out Sunday morning around 11:30 a.m. north of Tecate, Mexico, and west of Campo.
At first, Cal Fire crews reported the fire at 3 to 5 acres with a slow rate of spread, not threatening any structures. The fire jumped Highway 94 in a matter of hours and continued rapidly spreading from there.
"As we came out of Potrero, there was fire on both sides of the road, so I guess it was a good thing we got out when we did," evacuee Andy Lindsay said at the evacuation location on Sheridan.
Lindsay spent six days in an evacuation center during the Harris Fire in 2007. In 2007, the Harris Fire burned more than 90,000 acres in the same area, killing one person and badly burning another. The fire also destroyed 253 homes.
"Hopefully we won't be here for five or six days like we were last time," he said.
Sunday night the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services secured a Fire Management Assistance Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help ensure the availability of vital resources to suppress the fire.
The FMAG also enables local, state and tribal agencies to recover eligible costs.
The National Weather Service said an excessive heat watch will be in effect for parts of San Diego County and Imperial County, including valleys, mountains and deserts, from Sunday morning through next Thursday evening.
Communities that will feel the heat the most include: El Cajon, Santee, La Mesa, Poway, Pine Valley, Julian, Escondido, San Marcos, Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear.
If you have photos or videos of the fire, please send them to email@example.com.