Crews knock down brush fires in Old Town, Spring Valley

SAN DIEGO - Crews on Wednesday knocked down three small brush fires that broke out in Old Town and Spring Valley.

The first occurred in a riverbed off westbound Interstate 8 and Morena Boulevard in the Old Town area. A tree caught fire just after 6 p.m., and authorities said the fire then sparked a brush fire nearby. It took crews more than an hour to extinguish the flames, which did not threaten any structures.

Several minutes after the first fire started, another fire erupted nearby. Fire crews had that one out within minutes.

A Sig Alert was issued for eastbound I-8 to Morena Blvd. off-ramp and Morena Blvd. to westbound I-8 on-ramp.

The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department is now trying to figure out if they were deliberately set.

"There is a fairly large homeless population here in the river bottom so we are going to look into that," said Battalion Chief Lane Woolery.

Woolery says the palm trees, large thickets of pompous grass and other non-native vegetation in the riverbed hold fire well and also make it difficult for firefighters to mop up.

A Red Flag Warning has been extended through Thursday evening for the valleys and mountains. Woolery says firefighters all throughout the county remain on high alert.

"The weather is very dry," he said. "We've been watching that weather phenomena for the last couple days. It's going to continue for the rest of the week. Fortunately down here in the city, we're not experiencing the winds that some of the mountains and canyons are experiencing."

About two hours later, another brush fire erupted at a homeless encampment in Spring Valley near Jamacha Boulevard at Spring Glen Lane.

Jamacha Boulevard at Whitestone Road to Sweetwater Springs Boulevard was closed temporarily, according to the California Highway Patrol's CAD page.

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