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Willow Fire in Rancho San Diego 100% Contained: Cal Fire

The brush fire sparked under dangerous Santa Ana conditions overnight near Willow Glen Drive and Hillsdale Road, Cal Fire San Diego officials said

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Cal Fire confirmed the Willow Fire which sparked Wednesday night in Rancho San Diego is now 100% contained.

Santa Ana winds helped fuel the fire as it tore through 30 acres, destroying one home and damaging six others along the way.

Just after 1:15 a.m. Thursday, Cal Fire said the spread of the "Willow Fire" had been stopped. Crews spent the rest of the day dousing hot spots and flare ups until it was fully contained at around 7 p.m.

NBC 7's Audra Stafford reports from the area of the Willow Fire where firefighters were watching out for flairs and hot spots.

San Miguel Fire & Rescue Battalion Chief Andy Lawler said crews were in the mop-up phase Thursday morning but the winds that fueled the brush fire remained strong at 30 to 40 mph.

Lawler said crews had managed to be "very aggressive" in the overnight firefight, positioning themselves for good progress into the early morning hours. Firefighters, and homes left unscathed, benefitted from brush clearance work that had been done on the hillside above Willow Glen Drive, Lawler said.

One home was a total loss, according to Lawler.

East County’s Willow Fire, which has been fanned by Santa Ana winds, scorched through 30 acres of land and destroyed a home in Rancho San Diego.

Six other homes sustained heat and smoke damage mostly to the back of the residences. No injuries were reported in the Willow Fire, the battalion chief confirmed.

“We’re very fortunate that no civilians or firefighters were hurt,” Lawler said.

San Miguel Fire has taken over incident command and will continue to monitor the burn area. The cause of the fire has not been determined.

The fire prompted evacuations overnight but by 3:42 a.m. Thursday, the San Diego County Emergency Site said all evacuation orders had been lifted for the area impacted by the wildfire.

This included:

  • Brabham Street
  • Wind River Road
  • Lime Rock
  • Sonnet Street
  • Bridgehampton Place
  • Concours Court
  • Jarama Court
  • Aspen Lane
  • Seca Street
  • Sawgrass Street
  • Sea Pines Road
  • Congressional Drive
  • Wingfoot Place
  • Augusta Court

Emergency officials said a road closure remained in place for Willow Glen Drive between Steel Canyon Road and Hillsdale Drive, which was the epicenter of the blaze.

Santa Ana conditions are bringing dangerous fire weather to San Diego County this week. NBC 7's Sheena Parveen shares the latest updates in her First Alert Forecast for the morning of Dec. 3, 2020.

The wildfire -- fanned by dangerous, gusty Santa Ana conditions -- sparked around 10 p.m. near Willow Glen Drive and Hillsdale Road, threatening homes on the hillside. The neighborhood is near the Cottonwood Golf Course in San Diego's East County.

In 30 mph winds and with dry brush all around, the fire quickly crept uphill.

San Diego County Sheriff's Department deputies went door-to-door on the 2800 block of Wind River Road and Sawgrass Street to warn residents to evacuate. The SDSO said an evacuation warning was in place along Hilton Head Road east of Jamacha Road.

NBC 7's Omari Fleming has the latest details.

"Start packing your essentials and get ready to leave," the tweet said.

As of around 12:30 a.m., around 200 homes had been evacuated. A temporary evacuation site was set up at Regal Edwards Cinemas at 2951 Jamacha Rd., the sheriff's department said.

Fire Weather

The Willow Fire sparked amid a Red Flag Warning issued by the National Weather Service that was set to last from 6 p.m. Wednesday through 10 p.m. Saturday. The NWS warned of high winds and low humidity -- a notorious combination for fire danger. A High Wind Warning was also in effect in the mountains and valleys. The NWS also issued a wind advisory for San Diego's coastal areas overnight, in effect until 4 p.m. Thursday.

The dangerous conditions led San Diego Gas & Electric to shut off power to more than 22,000 customers across East San Diego County on Wednesday, and more shutoffs are likely to happen through Saturday, the utility said.

Cal Fire had also warned Wednesday afternoon that the wind event happening in the region would be "stronger, last longer and impact a much greater area than other recent events."

Meanwhile, the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department said Thursday is had increased its staffing to prepare for the Santa Ana wind event. SDFD said this included the addition of five brush engines and two water tenders that will be available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

Two SDFD helicopters would also be available 24 hours both Thursday and Friday, the department said.

"The increased staffing will be extended if the high fire danger persists," SDFD added.

NBC 7's Dagmar Midcap explains some of the science behind the Willow Fire that sparked Wednesday night in Rancho San Diego.
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