A brush fire burning in a canyon near homes in the Talmadge area forced evacuations along multiple streets -- including a high school -- and resulted in the loss of power for thousands as fire crews raced to battle the flames.
The Fairmount Fire sparked near Fairmount Avenue and Aldine Drive just before 1:30 p.m. in vegetation that lines a canyon in the densely residential Talmadge area.
A short time later, the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department ordered evacuations for homes on Constance and Natalie drives, and in the 4600 to 4700 blocks of Norma Drive. Those evacuations were lifted just before 3:30 p.m.
“I was coming home and drove up the street and saw the fire and rushed home and just started throwing things in my truck,” said resident Rodger Clemore.
SDPD later put Lucille and Lorraine drives under an evacuation warning, according to a tweet at 2:19 p.m.
A temporary evacuation shelter was set up for evacuees at Hoover High School.
Roughly 15 minutes later, crews confirmed that all evacuations had been lifted.
Police confirmed four teams of officers were notifying residents in the area about the evacuations. San Diego State University Police said it assisted SDPD with the fire even though there is "no active threat to the university." The school is roughly 1.5 miles away from the blaze.
In total, SDFD said more than 200 fire personnel were responding to the fire at one time. This includes 105 local firefighters and 25 staff members, as well as four CalFire crews, which consists of about 20 members each.
Locals reported seeing smoke from both the Kensington and Talmadge areas. Patrons at Ponce’s -- a popular restaurant on Adams Avenue -- could see smoke in the distance as fire engines zipped toward the brush fire.
“It’s pretty fast,” said Jorge Leyva, a maintenance supervisor for an apartment complex in the area. “It just started going and going.”
NBC 7 photographers spotted flames in surrounding brush and white smoke in the roadway and area.
“A lot of people go to work and leave their pets with AC and everything and, you know, right now people are starting to call us, saying, ‘Hey, what’s going on? Do I have to go get my pet?’ and stuff like that,” Leyva told NBC 7.
Leyva said there's been at least five fires in the area in the past five years.
SDG&E aircrane SkyMaverick started making water drops over the canyon just before 2 p.m. It made 10 total water drops amounting to 8,000 gallons of water.
At 3:41 p.m., SDPD tweeted that crews were continuing to douse the flames.
According to the SDG&E's outage map, roughly 1,500 customers were without power in the area immediately following the fire. A Kensington resident said SDG&E sent her a text message about the power outage, saying it expected power to be restored by 9:30 p.m.
By 2:45 p.m., SDG&E said it turned off the power to 4,000 customers as a precaution because the blaze was burning near a utility pole.
In a tweet, the gas and electric company said it will turn power back on as "soon as it's safe to do so." Power was restored at around 5:30 p.m.
The Fairmount Fire comes on the heels of dangerous fire conditions sweeping California this month – a month notorious for destructive wildfires.
On the edge of Los Angeles County, the Saddleridge Fire sparked on Oct. 10 beneath power lines on a dry, steep hillside above the city’s Sylmar neighborhood. As of Monday, that fire had burned nearly 8,400 acres, destroyed 17 structures and damaged dozens more. The Saddleridge Fire forced the evacuations of 100,000 people in Sylmar.
On Monday, the deadly Sandalwood Fire erupted in Riverside County, charring the earth and destroying homes.
Although there were no fire weather warnings in place for San Diego County Tuesday when the Fairmount Fire began, NBC 7 meteorologist Sheena Parveen did forecast gusty, offshore winds in parts of the county, as well as a warm-up.
By Sunday and Monday, Parveen said high pressure would start to position itself for Santa Ana winds, which fuel October fire weather in Southern California.
No other information was available.
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