Firefighters are working to contain a 100-acre brush fire which sparked amid climbing temperatures and dry, windy conditions Saturday off State Route 94 in San Diego’s East County.
The fire – dubbed the “Church Fire” by Cal Fire officials – began around 1:20 p.m. Saturday at 36624 Highway 94 and Church Road in Campo, a community located about 60 miles east of downtown San Diego. The location is less than three miles away from the Golden Acorn Casino.
Sunday morning, firefighters surrounded 75 percent of the fire, working to contain the fast-moving blaze spreading in medium fuels. By Sunday evening, the fire was 90 percent contained.
Earlier, officials said there was an immediate threat to some homes in the area and an evacuation order was issued for Church Road, south of SR-94. Residents have since returned home.
NBC 7 reached out to security at Golden Acorn Casino and an employee said there were no evacuations issued for the casino. He said they could see and smell the smoke from the Church Fire from the casino.
Saturday's firefight was swift.
Officials, heeding precautions during high-risk, dangerous fire conditions expected to linger in San Diego through at least Tuesday, immediately called for a full response by ground and air, fearing the blaze's potential to grow quickly.
Both Cal Fire and the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department (SDFD) have increased their staffing this weekend in preparation for wildfires.
“We’re utilizing a number of our resources that we’ve had in place for the last couple of weeks in anticipating of this weather pattern coming in,” a Cal Fire official told NBC 7 at the scene of the fire.
He said about 100 firefighters were tackling the Church Fire.
The temperature in Campo was in the mid-80s when the blaze began. Fire officials said the biggest challenge was the wind which was gusting at about 10 to 12 mph Saturday afternoon.
“We’re used to living with high temperature and low humidity throughout the year in San Diego County but the real factor for us is the winds," Cal Fire public information officer Kendal Bortisser said.
He said that had this fire happened on Sunday when Santa Ana winds will be stronger, things could've gotten much worse, faster.
"We're cautiously optimistic," said Bortisser. "Our crews are doing a great job, making great progress from the air and the ground, and we'll stay out here as long as we need to."
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
No other information was available.