San Diego

In First Day, Border Fire Jumps Highway As It Quickly Grows to 1,500 Acres

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services secured a Fire Management Assistance Grant from FEMA Sunday night

To read the latest Border Fire update, please click here. 

A wildland fire by the U.S.-Mexico border near Potrero jumped from 5 acres to 1,500 acres in a matter of hours its first day burning, forcing the city to be evacuated as the flames quickly spread.

As of 11 p.m. Sunday, the fire was 5 percent contained, four outbuildings had been destroyed and one firefighter was injured. 

Homes along Highway 94 between Emory Road and Plaskon Road were evacuated, along with residents in the community of Potrero. Highway 94 is closed from Highway 188 to Potrero Valley Road. 

The city of Potrero is 45 miles east of San Diego with a total population of 693 people in 207 units, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2014 American Community Survey.

Schools in the Mountain Empire Unified School District will be closed Monday, the district said around 8 p.m. Sunday. 

Evacuees from other temporary evacuation shelters were being directed to Campo Elementary School at 1654 Buckman Springs Road, which was open overnight. 

"As we came out of Potrero, there was fire on both sides of the road so I guess it was a good thing we got out when we did," evacuee Andy Lindsay said at the evacuation location on Sheridan.

Lindsay spent six days in an evacuation center during the Harris Fire in 2007.

"Hopefully we won't be here for five or six days like we were last time," he said.

Mary Hall was working at the library when she was told to evacuate. She grabbed some cats wandering around as she left, and is now waiting at the evacuation center.

"I am nervous about the state my home is in right now," she told NBC 7.

Additional temporary evacuation points were set up at the Campo Community Center, at 300 Sheridan Road and Dulzura Community Center at 16985 State Route 94.

The fire broke out Sunday morning around 11:30 a.m. near Highway 94 and Highway 188, north of Tecate, Mexico, and west of Campo. 

At first, Cal Fire crews reported the fire at 3 to 5 acres with a slow rate of spread, not threatening any structures. 

The fire grew to 900 acres by 6 p.m., jumped Highway 94 and was heading southeast toward Potrero, threatening structures. 

In 2007, the Harris Fire burned more than 90,000 acres in the same area, killing one person and badly burning another. The fire also destroyed 253 homes. 

Sunday night the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services secured a Fire Management Assistance Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help ensure the availability of vital resources to suppress the fire. 

The FMAG also enables local, state and tribal agencies to recover eligible costs.

The fire comes during a day of record-breaking heat across San Diego County. 

The closest weather station to the fire is in Potrero, slightly northeast of the blaze. In Potrero, the weather is hot and dry but not too windy, Bledsoe said. It is currently 104 degrees with a 10 percent relative humidity and winds at 7 miles per hour from the west.

The National Weather Service says an excessive heat watch will be in effect for parts of San Diego County and Imperial Valley, including valleys, mountains and deserts, from Sunday morning through next Thursday evening.

Communities that will feel the heat the most include: El Cajon, Santee, La Mesa, Poway, Pine Valley, Julian, Escondido, San Marcos, Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear.

If you have photos or videos of the fire, please send them to

Contact Us