What to Know
- As of 6:30 p.m. Monday, the Valley Fire had burned 17,345 acres and destroyed at least 11 homes.
- The blaze is 3% contained, according to Cal Fire.
- Evacuation orders for Lawson Valley and the community of Carve Acre Road remain in place. New evacuation orders were issued Monday for the areas of Corral Canyon, Bobcat Meadows, Los Pinos and Corte Madera areas.
The fast-moving Valley Fire in east San Diego County continued burning Monday as crews approached the third day of the firefight amid sweltering heat sweeping the region -- and with even more fire risk yet to come.
As of 6:30 p.m. Monday, Cal Fire San Diego said the Valley fire had scorched 17,345 acres, a 7,000-plus-acre increase from around 12 hours earlier. Firefighters reached 3% containment Monday evening.
In its path, the Valley Fire had destroyed at least 11 homes and 25 outbuildings. Two people were injured but it was not known if those hurt were residents or firefighters, or how severe the injuries were.
The Loveland Reservoir, which serves as a holding area for water which is released to the Sweetwater Dam water stroage facility, was under "immediate threat."
Cal Fire San Diego said Monday morning that the agency would, through an agreement with the Navy Third Fleet and First Marine Expeditionary Force, lean on military aircraft for help fighting the Valley Fire. The extra reinforcements provided an additional six helicopters to the firefight.
The fire sparked around 2:15 p.m. Saturday in vegetation at Spirit Trail and Japatul Valley Road. By Monday morning, it had exploded to more than 10,000 acres.
Cal Fire said cooler temperatures and lighter winds on Monday should help in the firefight, "However, there are a lot of dead fuels that will continue to be receptive to the fire spread," the agency said.
Valley Fire Latest
Any progress made could be lost on Tuesday, when Santa Ana driven winds are expected to develop with some gusts reaching over 40 miles per hour overnight.
Cal Fire said Sunday that in addition to the evacuated areas, the wildfire was threatening buildings in Wood Valley, Lyons Valley, and Deer Horn Valley.
The agency said the blaze was burning at a "critical/dangerous rate of speed."
The San Diego County Sheriff's Department issued new mandatory evacuation orders Monday for the areas of Corral Canyon, Bobcat Meadows, Los Pinos and Corte Madera (south of Pine Valley) areas.
That's in addition to the previous evacuation orders for the communities of Lawson Valley and Carve Acre Road.
An evacuation warning was in effect in the areas of State Route 94 and Marron Valley, as well as Lyons Valley Road area out to the Morena Reservoir.
An evacuation warning means evacuations are voluntary right now, not mandatory, but officials said residents should prepare to leave their homes if an evacuation order is issued.
“I saw lots and lots of fire,” said Manuel Baeza, a Lawson Valley resident. “Lots of fire. Big, big flames. Maybe like 60 feet or 80 feet high.”
Temporary evacuation sites are located at Steele Canyon High School in Spring Valley, at 12440 Campo Rd., and at Joan MacQueen Middle School in Alpine, at 2001 Tavern Rd.
Authorities said family pets are welcomed at the evacuation centers.
All evacuation updates tied to the Valley Fire can be found here.
The Jamul-Dulzura Unified School District canceled classes for students on Tuesday due to the wildfire, the San Diego County Office of Education said. Students affected would be notified of the cancelation by phone, social media and website, and through messages in Google Classroom.
The American Red Cross of the Southern California Region was also assisting those who have been displaced.
Residents in the immediately impacted area packed what they could and left as quickly as possible as thick plumes of smoke billowed above. Some locals were seen getting their horses to safety.
"As long as you can see things, take your time, get your animals," advised Charlie Kouns, who lives in the impacted area. "If that’s what you want to do, then do it."
The San Diego Humane Society said its emergency response team will be helping with animal evacuations. Large animals will also be held in an evacuation site at the County Animal Services South Shelter, in Bonita. SDHS can assist in evacuating large animals and family pets are also welcome there, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said.
Photos: Valley Fire Scorches 10,258 Acres Near Alpine
A series of roads were closed over the weekend due to the Valley Fire. The San Diego County Sheriff's Department said the following roads were closed until further notice:
- Japatul Road and Sequan Truck Trail
- Japatul Road and Carveacre Road
- Japatul Road and Hidden Glen
- Japatul Road at Tavern Road/Dehesa Road
- Japatul Road from Dehesa to Lyons Valley Road
- Japatul Road at Lyons Valley Road/Japatul Valley Road
- Lawson Valley Road at Skyline Truck Trail and Rudnick Drive
- Wisecarver Lane and Wisecarver Truck Trail
- Skyline Truck Trail and Lawson Valley
- Montiel Truck Trail and West Boundary Truck Trail
- Montiel Truck Trail and Lawson Valley Road
- Lyons Valley Road from Japatul Road to Honey Springs Road
The brush fire caused thousands to lose power in east San Diego County. San Diego Gas & Electric said the unplanned outages were a result of soot accumulating on power lines and other power equipment, which can "affect their performance and integrity."
"Helicopters may be needed to wash off the residue from burned materials," SDG&E said in a statement.
As of 6:30 p.m., about 1,800 SDG&E customers in the area were without power, according to the agency's outage map. The original outage affected more than 12,000 customers.
While SDG&E estimated power would be restored to some on Monday and to the rest by Tuesday afternoon, the agency noted it depends on first responders clearing the way for their crews to work in the fire area.
"Before re-energizing power lines in the vicinity of a fire, SDG&E must be first cleared by first responder agencies who have command of the incident that it is safe for our crews," the agency said.
Sweltering Heat Wave, Fire Risk
It’s been a difficult few days for crews as they faced triple-digit temperatures during a relentless heat wave in San Diego County.
The county was under a red flag warning throughout the weekend, and on Monday the hot, dry conditions would continue.
The National Weather Service said its excessive heat warning would remain in effect through 8 p.m. Monday.
And then, more fire weather.
The NWS said a fire weather watch would be in effect from 3 p.m. Tuesday through 8 p.m. Wednesday for strong, gusty winds and low humidity in the mountains and foothills of the inland valleys.
NBC 7 meteorologist Sheena Parveen said those wind gusts in San Diego’s mountains could increase to up to 50 mph by Tuesday night, into Wednesday.
“Humidity is going to be dropping, too, so what’s going to happen by mid-week, is we’re going to have a very brief Santa Ana setup,” Parveen explained. “So, that’s why our fire danger is going to be elevated.”
We will bring you the latest updates throughout the day on the Valley Fire.
Meanwhile, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in San Diego County on Sunday night.
The state faces an unprecedented situation with regard to wildfires; on Sunday, Newsom also declared a state of emergency in Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, and San Bernardino counties. The governor said that "extreme peril to the safety of persons and property exist due to the Creek, El Dorado, and Valley Fires" in a proclamation issued on Sunday.
Among other things, the state of emergency mobilizes the California National Guard to aid in relief efforts and also permits state agencies to assist in the purchase of "materials, goods, equipment and services necessary to quickly assist with the response to and recovery from the impacts of these fires."
"The fires have burned tens of thousands of acres, destroyed homes and caused the evacuation of thousands of residents," Newsom's office stated in a news release sent out Sunday night. The governor declared the statewide emergency in response to the dangers posed by the fires and secured a "presidential major disaster declaration" to aid in the state's response to the fires in Northern California in Santa Clara, Stanislaus, Santa Cruz, San Mateo, Napa, Nevada, Lake, Solano, Yolo and Monterey counties.