Canyon Catches Fire on Palomar Mountain

The fire has grown to 200 acres, officials say

Air resources worked through the night to fight a canyon fire, inaccessible by ground, burning on Palomar Mountain, the U.S. Forest Service told NBC 7 Friday.

The Cutca Fire has burned about 200 acres near Cutca Trail and High Point Truck Trail, sparking at about 4:20 p.m. Fire officials said it was roughly 2 percent contained as of Saturday at 11 a.m.

Forest Service officials said the blaze was still being attacked by air and hand crews, as inaccessibility continues. The fire was moving east as of 10:45 a.m., and crews were taking precautions in the event of wind shifts.

Five engines, a water tender and hot shot crews were initially on scene Friday, but they had trouble accessing the fire, the Forest Service said.

Instead, helicopters flew handcrews in to strategic areas to fight the fire on the ground. Firefighters also positioned themselves around the border in case it spreads toward them.

One night-flying helicopter and ground crews planned to work overnight to contain the blaze. A crew from Los Angeles also headed to the area for backup.

The fire was burning in heavy fuels at a moderate rate of spread Friday, the Forest Service said. Palomar Observatory is not currently threatened, but crews are staging there in case the fire shifts in that direction. No other homes are in the area.

On Saturday, fire officials maintained that no structures were threatened by the blaze. The Palomar Observatory remained open Saturday, fire officials confirmed.

According to NBC 7's Dagmar Midcap, there is virtually no wind on Palomar Mountain Friday to spread the fire, with slight breezes registering at 2 to 3 miles per hour.

At the base of the mountain, humidity is at 70 percent -- good news for firefighters. But toward the top of the mountain, conditions get drier, and humidity drops to 20 percent.

"So varying stages of relative humidity, from good to not so good, but the winds are cooperating," Midcap said.

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