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Evacuations Lifted for San Pasqual Fire


All evacuations have been lifted for the brush fire that broke out in triple-digit heat Friday afternoon in San Pasqual Valley, Cal Fire San Diego said.

The fire, which charred 365 acres and forced the closure of state Route 78, was 40 percent contained Saturday morning, officials said.

Late Saturday afternoon, authorities lifted all evacuation orders. 

On Friday, the fire marched to the southeast, scorching hundreds of acres, prompting the evacuation of residents in the Ramon area.

San Diego Fire-Rescue crews were called at 1:27 p.m. for a fire burning east of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, along SR-78 and east of Interstate 15.

By 5 p.m., aircraft including a DC-10 were making drops in an attempt to control the fire burning through rugged terrain and threatening homes on both sides of the highway. 

The agency tweeted at around 7:30 p.m. that forward progress of the fire had been stopped.

Forty percent of the fire was contained as of 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Cal Fire officials said.

Officials estimate that 365 acres have burned as of Saturday. 

They have not given an estimate as to when it expects full containment.

State Route 78 was closed between Bandy Canyon Road in Escondido and Weekend Villa Road in Ramona, according to the Cal Fire.

Ground crews were trying to get around the fire to get an idea of what it’s doing, said Kelly Zombro, Deputy Fire Chief with San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

There are structures in the area, he said, but there have been no structures lost and no injuries. 

“The potential for growth is still extreme,” Zombro said, noting the rugged terrain and extremely dry conditions.

The fire was moving in a southeastern direction, according to Cal Fire officials.

Zombro did not expect erratic winds or a heavy wind shift that would move the fire in the other direction. 

“With any luck at all,  the marine layer is going to come in and give us a chance but right now, it’s off to the races,” he said.

But a Ramona resident said winds in his area were strong enough to cause some damage.

“The winds were actually pretty strong. A nice, good size rock about 5 inches all around actually got picked up and went through the glass French doors in the back,” Jason Cannon said.

All evacuation warnings in the area of the fire have been lifted. Streets affected by Cal Fire evacuation orders include:

  • Rangeland Rd
  • Oak Grove Rd
  • Highland Hills Dr
  • Rio Maggiore Drive
  • Horizon View
  • Cinque Terre Dr
  • Corniglia Dr
  • Via Cuesta
  • Via Vista Grande

The San Pasqual Academy self-evacuated, police said. 

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department issued an evacuation order to those affected at 4:55 p.m. Friday.

All evacuees were directed to Ramona High School located at 1401 Hanson Lane in Ramona, 92065.

People living in the area were told to call 211 for the latest information.

Additional information was available through www.sdcountyemergency.com or the San Diego Sheriff’s Department non-emergency line at 858-565-5200.

Resident Ben Verkest was trying to get things packed up when he stopped to talk with NBC 7.

“It can take a turn at any time,” he said of the fire. “I just hope everything is under control and the winds cooperate.” 

Zombro said even residents to the west should be very aware of the fire’s growth and movement. 

“It’s very wise for them to be paying attention,” he said. 

Smoke from the fire was being carried east and filling the skies over Ramona.

A spokesperson for the San Diego Zoo Safari Park said the park was operating as usual. They are always ready for fires, a spokesperson said, but they have made no moves to evacuate the park.

As always with fires in San Diego County, some residents forced out of their homes had to scramble to get their large animals loaded up and ready to go.

Ramona resident Debbie Westphal has nearly 20 horses and transporting them is quite the chore.

“I have 17 horses and I have three rigs that I can use to transport them, but it’s just me alone so I have to rely on two friends to drive also,” Westphal said.

She said two nearby large animal shelter facilities were full and she was having a tough time figuring out where to take them. But luckily for her, the horse owner community was there.

“We are all trying to help each other,” she said. ‘If someone doesn’t have enough room for their horses we are trying to help coordinate more trailer space.”

At 1:40 p.m. Friday, the temperature in San Pasqual Valley was 102 degrees and the wind was 9 mph with 31 percent humidity. 

Units from Escondido and Vista joined San Diego Fire-Rescue crews in fighting the fire.

Firefighting efforts are under a unified command involving CAL FIRE San Diego County Fire Authority, San Diego County Fire and Cleveland National Forest.

Please refresh this page for updates on this story. Details may change as more information becomes available.

Photo Credit: NBC 7
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Source: NBC San Diego

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