RAMONA (KGTV) - Seven acres burned in a brush fire near downtown Ramona Saturday, according to CalFire. At 6 p.m. Cal Fire PIO Issac Sanchez said the fire was 20% contained.
The fire burned near Montecito Road and North Ramona Street.
Hundreds of neighbors were evacuated from the Ramona Mountain Valley Apartments, where the fire burned right up to their fence.
Juliette Farey, a mother and resident at the complex said she was coming back from her son's birthday party and when she saw the smoke, she knew her home was at risk.
"We were scared for our lives," she said.
Farey said the unruly gold bushes on the other side of the fence were out of control, and wished they would be better maintained to keep a fire from happening in the future.
Sanchez said the fire started with a pile of debris in the riverbed then spread to nearby grass. Sixty-five fire fighters responded, working to protect neighbors, two planes and a helicopter also jumped into action to help.
Farey believes homeless who live in the riverbed started the fire, saying the high rent is to blame. "They probably lit a fire in the river bottom to stay warm," she said.
Other residents were terrified, saying they've never experienced a scare like this.
"There was just this wall of smoke. I grabbed our animals and my daughters," Angelina Rios said police banged on their door urging them to get out and that's when they saw the wall of smoke steps away.
Her daughter Destiny Minjares described the fear gripping her and her neighbors, that turned to excitement as a helicopter soared just over their heads dropping water.
Destiny said they got splashed and everyone cheered after the successful maneuver, a feeling that quickly faded as they saw the fire was still raging nearby.
Firefighters got a handle on the fire around 6 p.m. The evacuations have been lifted. All road closures have been lifted as well.
Firefighters are expected to be at the scene for several hours.
This is a developing story. 10News will update as details become available.