valley fire

Valley Fire Chars 9,850 Acres; 11 Structures Destroyed

There are 374 people fighting the fire, which began Saturday

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What to Know

  • Fire is at 9,850 acres as of 8:47 p.m. Sunday. Eleven structures have been destroyed.
  • The blaze is 1% contained, according to Cal Fire. There are 374 people fighting the fire.
  • Evacuation orders for Lawson Valley and the community of Carveacre Road remain in place.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in San Diego County on Sunday night after the Valley Fire burned more than 9,850 acres in less than two days.

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 as well. 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.

Cal Fire said on Sunday that the Valley Fire in San Diego County was 1% contained. Eleven structures have been destroyed by the fire.

Evacuation orders remain in place for those threatened by the fire, which has been burning in the East County near Alpine since Saturday amid sweltering heat.

The unforgiving fire, which is burning at a "critical/dangerous rate of speed," and forced residents from Lawson Valley and the community of Carveacre Road to flee their homes under an active evacuation order.

Cal Fire said that in addition to the evacuated areas, the wildfire is threatening buildings in Wood Valley, Lyons Valley and Deer Horn Valley.


The San Diego County Sheriff's Department said 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 that vacating the premises is voluntary, not mandatory. It serves as a warning for residents that they should prepare to vacate their homes if an evacuation order is issued.

Temporary evacuation sites are located at Steele Canyon High School in Spring Valley, at 12440 Campo Road, and at Joan MacQueen Middle School in Alpine, at 2001 Tavern Road.

People who evacuated ahead of the flames over the weekend anxiously awaited permission to return to their homes, reported NBC 7's Priya Sridhar.

Joan MacQueen Middle School was temporarily closed Sunday before officials reopened it as a shelter for those who were displaced in the fire.

Authorities said family pets are welcomed at the evacuation centers.

The American Red Cross of the Southern California Region is assisting those who have been displaced.

"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."

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.

The San Diego Humane Society said its emergency response team will be helping with animal evacuations on Sunday. Those who would like their assistance can call 619-299-7012 and press 1.

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 welcomed, sheriffs said.

Photos: Valley Fire Scorches 9,850 Acres Near Alpine

Road Closures

A series of road closures are in effect as the fire fight continues, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Office. The following roads are 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/Japatual 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     

Heat Conditions

It’s been a difficult few days for crews as they face triple-digit temperatures during a relentless heat wave in San Diego County. The county is under a red flag warning through 6 p.m. Sunday as dry, scorching temps make for risky, fire-prone conditions.

“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.”

NBC 7's Lauren Coronado is at an evacuation center with the latest.

NBC 7 meteorologist Crystal Egger said sunny conditions with a high temperature of 112 degrees was forecast for Sunday the Japatul Valley area, where the fire first sparked.

East winds will be on average 5-10 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph, and smoke blow to the west and northwest, Egger said.

Air Quality

The San Diego County Air Pollution Control District issued a smoke advisory on Saturday that continued on into Sunday.

"The smoke dispersed throughout much of the western portion of San Diego County overnight and has also traveled offshore," the county said in a statement. "While much of this smoke remains above ground level, there is smoke affecting the inland valleys west of Alpine as of Sunday morning."

Residents in affected areas can go here for an air-quality forecast published on the county's website. Officials said that "[meteorologica] conditions are forecast to improve air quality and shift the trajectory of the smoke toward the east and northeast on Monday."

Crews worked in triple-digit heat again on Sunday, saving homes threatened by the Valley Fire, reports NBC 7's Ramon Galindo.

In areas of heavy smoke, the county advises residents to assume the air quality is unhealthy. Where there's minor smoke, residents should assume the air quality is moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Inland valley and coastal communities could be impacted as the day progresses. In areas with smoke, fine particulates, or PM2.5 concentrations, may reach unhealthful levels.

If possible, it's best to stay indoors in areas if you smell smoke. Physical and outdoor activities should be limited.

Children, the elderly and individuals with respiratory or heart disease are most susceptible to injuries in connection with fine particulate matter.

Power outages

Residents struggling with the fire and evacuations also got news Sunday night that California's Independent System Operator had declared a Stage 2 emergency, warning residents about the possibility of rotating blackouts and advising them to conserve energy. Fortunately, the emergency was lifted two hours later with no outages.

Stage 2 means that the "ISO has taken all mitigating action and is no longer able to provide its expected energy requirements."

"#ISO declares Stage 2 emergency; consumers should prepare for outages. Conservation will be critical to avoiding or limiting power interruptions," CAISO tweeted on Sunday.

Also, More than 250 customers who live near the fire were out of power Sunday since the Valley Fire damaged the electric system, according to San Diego Gas & Electric.

The utility company said its crews are working in “challenging conditions to restore power safely as soon as possible.” It explained that soot can pile up on power lines in the event of a fire, such as the case with the Valley Fire.

Since helicopters may need to wash off any residue from burns, SDG&E must be cleared by Cal Fire to re-energize power lines. Cal Fire will determine when it is safe for utility workers to assess the situation and restore power.

Crews are expected to restore power by 12 p.m. Monday.

Cal Fire San Diego first received word of the fire just before 3 p.m. off Spirit Trail and Japatul Road and said the blaze had a “dangerous rate of speed.” As the inferno progressed, San Diego Air Pollution Control issued a smoke advisory Saturday.

Fire officials have not reported any injuries in connection to the blaze.

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