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Cause of Caliente Fire in Otay Mesa under investigation

Posted at 7:30 AM, Aug 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-06 18:57:32-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Investigators are working to determine the cause of a brush fire that scorched hundreds of acres and prompted mandatory evacuations in Otay Mesa.

As of 7 a.m. Friday, the so-called Caliente Fire has burned 490 acres and is 60 percent contained, according to San Diego Fire-Rescue Department officials.

The blaze erupted shortly before 12 p.m. Thursday in brush off Caliente Avenue and Otay Mesa Road, near San Ysidro High School, fire officials said.

Crews on the ground and in the air were able to stop the fire’s forward rate of spread at around 3 p.m., but the fire reignited and spread to Moreno Pallets on Cactus Court.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Where the Caliente Fire burned

Flames destroyed wooden pallets at the business and caused propane tanks on the property to explode.

As the fire continued to grow, mandatory evacuation orders were issued for nearby businesses and residents. The Cross Border Express airport terminal was also shut down and evacuated.

By 7:15 p.m., all evacuation orders and road closures were lifted.

SDFRD officials said the fire at the pallet yard was fully extinguished by 3 a.m. Friday. A GoFundMe account was established to help the owners of Moreno Pallets.

10News learned San Diego Fire-Rescue investigators were in Otay Mesa to look into what sparked the fire.

RELATED: Caliente Fire rips through Otay Mesa

Due to the sooty particulate matter being sent into the atmosphere by the fire, the Air Pollution Control District of San Diego County advised those close enough to smell the smoke to stay indoors until the flames are under control and the skies clear.

The district’s forecast for Friday:

Due to the fire burning in Otay Mesa in San Diego County, localized areas of smoke have occurred in areas of San Diego County. As a result fine particulates, or PM2.5 concentrations, may reach unhealthful levels in some smoke impacted areas.

In areas of heavy smoke, assume that air quality levels are unhealthy for sensitive groups to unhealthy for all individuals. In areas with minor smoke impacts, assume that air quality levels range from moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups.

In areas where you smell smoke it is advised that you limit physical activity. If possible, stay indoors to limit your exposure to fine particulate matter.

The air quality forecast for Friday, August 2, is for little change in conditions. Air quality levels will be GOOD to UNHEALTHY for SENSITIVE GROUPS throughout the day.