Border Fire: 6,020 acres burned, 10 percent contained

Posted at 7:05 AM, Jun 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-22 09:16:37-04

POTRERO, Calif. -- Firefighters continue to battle a wildfire that has destroyed outbuildings, caused power outages, injured four crew members and prompted widespread evacuations while blackening 6,020 acres in the far southern reaches of San Diego County.

As of 7 p.m. Tuesday, the burn zone was 10 percent contained, Cal Fire reported.

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An inmate was hurt battling the fire overnight Monday. He was rushed to a hospital with unknown injuries. Three other firefighters suffered minor heat-related ailments, according to Cal Fire. Their names were not released.

The blaze, dubbed the Border Fire, erupted for unknown reasons Sunday morning in the vicinity of state Routes 94 and 188 amid a late-spring heat wave. Authorities cleared residents and ranchers out of nearby Potrero as the fire spread north of Tecate Junction.

On Monday, outbreaks of "extreme fire behavior" prompted officials to expand the evacuation order to include the communities of Canyon City, Cowboy Ranch, Dog Patch, Forest Gate and Star Ranch, Cal Fire said.

Early Tuesday afternoon, Cal Fire said an evacuation order was issued for the Lake Morena Village community, northwest of Campo. Roughly 800 homes were considered threatened at that point, along with sections of the Pacific Coast Trail, which was closed to the public in the area, officials said.

There were no reports of homes destroyed by the blaze, though at least four sheds were leveled, authorities said.

The Mountain Empire Unified School District announced Tuesday afternoon that all schools would be closed for the rest of the school year.

The district said the eighth-grade promotion ceremony is scheduled to take place on June 23, at 4:30 p.m., at El Capitan High School in Lakeside. High school graduation will take place on the same day at 6:30 p.m. at El Capitan High. Students are advised to arrive one hour before graduation or promotion exercises.

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The evacuation center at Campo Elementary School at 1654 Buckman Springs Rd. had to be closed Monday because the fire got too close to the area. A new shelter was set up at the Los Coches Middle School on Dunbar Lane in Alpine. According to a Red Cross spokesperson, about 35 people spent Monday night at the Los Coches shelter. Evacuees with pets are welcome at the Los Coches shelter.

Those with large animals such as horses were advised to take them to Circle T Ranch on Viejas Grade Road in Descanso.

Anyone willing to donate supplies for pets and animals is asked to deliver them to the San Diego Humane Society's San Diego Campus (5500 Gaines Street, San Diego 92110). Needed items include livestock food and hay, dog and cat food and cat litter.

On Monday, an animal control officer with San Diego County Animal Services was trying to help an emu who had been burned in the fire. The emu's owner reportedly didn't want the officer to take the emu. He went inside his home, grabbed a shotgun, returned and fired three shots into the air. The man was arrested.

State Route 94 was blocked off from State Route 188 to Mountain Empire RV Park. Due to the closure, Metropolitan Transit System officials modified Route 894 to only service the area between El Cajon and Tecate. San Diego County reported Tuesday that although Potrero Valley, Harris Ranch and Emery roads were all technically open, drivers may find it difficult to access them.

The blaze also caused power outages that at one point affected more than 1,000 homes and businesses in Potrero and the nearby communities of Campo and Dulzura, according to San Diego Gas & Electric.

About 275 addresses remained without power Tuesday, SDG&E reported. Service was expected to be restored to all the affected areas by midday Wednesday.

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