Border Fire Burns 7,609 Acres in Potrero, 100 Percent Contained

The Border Fire began around 11 a.m. on June 19 in the border community of Potrero, located about 42 miles southeast of downtown San Diego

A 7,609-acre wildfire burning for nearly two weeks in a rugged border community in southeast San Diego County is now 100 percent contained, Cal Fire officials said Thursday. 

The blaze, dubbed the Border Fire, sparked on June 19 around 11 a.m. near the border city of Potrero, which is located approximately 42 miles southeast of downtown San Diego.

Fueled by relentless heat and dry conditions, the fire prompted evacuations of 700 residents and closed many roads in the area for several days.

In its path, five homes in Potrero were destroyed and a sixth sustained fire damage. Cal Fire said 11 other structures in the area, classified as outbuildings, were also destroyed.

For days, evacuees were left to wonder if their homes had been spared. Los Coches Creek Middle School on Dunbar Lane in unincorporated El Cajon became the gathering ground for Potrero residents, serving as an emergency shelter amid evacuations. 

By 6 p.m. on June 23, Cal Fire officials said all evacuation orders had been lifted and residents were allowed to slowly and cautiously begin returning to their homes. As Potrero was repopulated, San Diego Gas & Electric continued to make repairs to many downed power lines and poles in the community.

As firefighters ganed the upper-hand, Cal Fire said fire activity had decreased daily while the containment line continued to hold and increase.

The Border Fire proved especially challenging due to the steep, rugged terrain which is difficult to access, and extremely dry vegetation in the area created by years of drought in California. Cal Fire described the conditions as fueling “erratic fire behavior.”

Cal Fire said firefighters had been able to construct additional control lines along the perimeter of the Border Fire, which helped keep the acreage increase at a minimum.

By June 26, as tireless fire crews continued to work, Cal Fire reported there were no structures threatened by the Border Fire. At its peak, more than 1,900 fire personnel battled the blaze as it initially threatened 200 structures in the community.

On June 29, officials confirmed the bodies of two Potrero residents had been discovered in the path of the Border Fire.

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