San Diego

Sawday Fire Started in Parked Travel Trailer: Cal Fire

Cal Fire was working to determine the exact cause of the fire as of 2 p.m. Monday

The cause of the Santa Ana wind-driven wildfire that burned about 97 acres of land east of Ramona is still under investigation, but Cal Fire may be honing in on a travel trailer that was parked near the Sawday Truck Trail.

Issac Sanchez with Cal Fire said the Sawday Fire started in a parked, unoccupied travel trailer placed there by the property's owner. Cal Fire was working to determine the exact cause of the fire as of 2 p.m. Monday.

The fire was first reported south of State Route 78 and Old Julian Highway at about 9:20 a.m. on Oct. 25. Firefighters worked through the weekend to cut a containment line around the blaze and reached full containment by Monday night.

The fire erupted near the agency's Witch Creek fire station so crews were able to arrive on scene quickly, Cal Fire said. About 150 firefighters with 10 engines each carrying 500 gallons of water, a helicopter and a firefighting aircraft tackled the fire.  

"The conditions that we experienced today is exactly what we were anticipating and what LA County and other parts of counties north of us experienced yesterday. This was not a surprise," Cal Fire Deputy Chief Nick Schuler said on Friday. 

San Diego County Sheriff's deputies went door-to-door to evacuate residents west of Littlepage Road and South of Old Julian Highway while the county alerted communities via a reverse 911 call. To ensure you get alerts, sign up at

Nearly 170 people were evacuated from 60 homes and 8 businesses.

"If you have an evacuation warning, be ready to leave in 15 minutes. If you have an evacuation order call, be ready to leave immediately," said San Diego County Communication Officer Alex Bell. 

Ramona resident Cody Snyder told NBC 7 the moment he knew it was time to evacuate.

“As it came over the hills, you look out and there’s big flames over the mountain, and you’re like, ‘Oh crap. We gotta go, time to go,” Snyder said. “It’s etched in your mind forever, and it’s very scary and nerve-wracking, but I gotta tell you, panicking doesn’t help.”

The Ramona Rodeo Grounds at 421 Aqua Lane were established as an evacuation point. The San Diego Red Cross was staging there to help residents, according to spokesperson Emily Cox. 

The San Diego County Department of Animal Services were also at the facility to help with animals. 

Schools were not closed because of the fires but the San Diego County Office of Education confirmed all kids were being kept inside due to poor air quality. 

The fire started amid a Red Flag Warning for much of Southern California due to dangerous fire-fueling conditions. During that time, the combination of gusty winds, hot temperatures and low humidity make the perfect conditions for wildfires to spark and spread rapidly.

Cal Fire confirmed that winds were a challenge for crews, at one point forcing them to pull fixed-wing aircraft from making water drops on the fire. 

Humidity in the area was below 9 percent. Both were possible contributing factors to a difficult firefight. 

Fall is historically one of the most dangerous times of the year for wildfires in California. Seven of the state's 10-most destructive wildfires occurred in October -- many fueled by monster winds, including Santa Ana gusts.

No other information was available.

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