San Diego

San Diego's Lilac Fire Now 100 Percent Contained: Cal Fire

The blaze began the morning of Dec. 7 off State Route 76 and Interstate 15 in Bonsall in San Diego's North County

Ten days after the Lilac Fire ripped through San Diego’s North County, Cal Fire officials reached the milestone they’d been tirelessly working toward Saturday: 100 percent containment.

Just after 6 a.m., the agency announced the 4,100-acre fire was 100 percent contained.

“A big thank you to our local, state and federal cooperators,” Cal Fire said in an update posted to Twitter. “We couldn’t do it without our great partnerships and teamwork.

The Lilac Fire first sparked around 11:15 a.m. on Dec. 7 off an interchange at State Route 76 and Interstate 15 in Bonsall, a rural community in San Diego’s North County known for its farms and ranches. Amid gusty winds and low humidity, the fire exploded to 500 acres within 20 minutes.

[NATL-SD] Lilac Fire Burns Near SR-76 and I-15 in North San Diego County

As the hours passed, the wind-driven flames tore through trees, brush and, eventually, homes. At its peak, the Lilac Fire forced evacuations of 10,000 residents many of whom scrambled to gather their belongings and get to safety not knowing whether they’d have a home to return to.

In all, the fire destroyed 157 structures and damaged 64 others.

The fire shut down roads, schools and power lines. Horses at training facilities in the area were killed trying to escape the flames; trainers were burned and trampled trying to help their animals.

North County residents are getting their homes and property cleaned up and attempting to return to normal after a Lilac Fire scorched homes in Bonsall. NBC 7’s Steven Luke reports.

All this happened as Southern California experienced a “siege” of six wildfires in the region, including the destructive Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties which, as of Saturday morning, had torched 259,000 acres and was 40 percent contained.

On Saturday morning, on the heels of the Lilac Fire breakthrough, parts of San Diego County experienced light drizzle – a welcome sight after the long dry spell.

A worker at the San Luis Rey Training center in San Diego’s North County was trampled by several horses while trying to extinguish flames raging through a stable during the height of last week’s Lilac Fire. NBC 7’s Artie Ojeda reports.

Still, the fire danger in the county is not over just yet.

The National Weather Service said more fire weather is looming for San Diego County Sunday, as a red flag warning is in effect from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The warning brings with it, once again, strong, gusty winds and low humidity that could help fuel a wildfire. This means any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly and be difficult to contain.

NBC 7 guest Cal Fire San Diego Chief Tony Mecham shares how the lessons learned from San Diego County fires in 2003 and 2007 were applied to fighting the Lilac Fire.

To get the latest weather updates from NBC 7 throughout the weekend, click here.

Liberty Zabala's Weekend Forecast for Saturday, December 16, 2017
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