Crews make progress on Banner Fire

JULIAN, Calif. - Firefighters battling a destructive wildfire that blackened a patch near the town of Julian in east San Diego County have contained 70 percent of the blaze.

Crews made progress overnight Thursday, but the fire also surged from 150 acres to 217 acres burned on Friday.

The wildfire destroyed two homes, threatened hundreds more and forced the cancelation of a Fourth of July parade and celebration in Julian.

The fire erupted for unknown reasons shortly after 10:30 a.m. Thursday off state Route 78 in the rural Banner area. The flames spread rapidly to the west, leveling two residences and threatening at least 200 others, Cal Fire Capt. Kendal Bortisser said. An outbuilding also was destroyed, he said.

As firefighters battled the blaze on the ground and aboard air tankers and water-dropping helicopters, sheriff's deputies cleared residents out of Kentwood-in-the-Pines and Whispering Pines.

A temporary shelter for the displaced was set up at Jess Martin County Park on state Route 79. In the late afternoon, the site was switched to Julian High School. All evacuation orders were lifted at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Highway 78 was closed Friday between Julian High School and Scissors Crossing.

Another wildfire burning on more than 6 acres in Napa County also burned two homes and was 55 percent contained early Friday.

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