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Brushfire near Escondido causes I-15 closure, delays

Deer Fire.png
Posted at 12:17 PM, May 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-23 21:42:41-04

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) -- A brush fire reported near Escondido sent plumes of white smoke into the air and caused a traffic headache for I-15 travelers Saturday afternoon.

According to the National Weather Service the blaze, dubbed the Deer Fire, was reported northwest of Escondido near the 15 and Deer Springs Road just after 12 p.m.

CalFire says seven acres have so far burned. Within a few hours, crews were able to stop the forward movement of the fire, but CalFire Battalion Chief Issac Sanchez said crews will likely stay on scene through the evening. On Sunday around 6:13 p.m., CalFire said the fire was 100% contained.

While northbound lanes remained open through the afternoon, all southbound lanes were initially shut down because of the fire's proximity to the road. Traffic was being diverted at Gopher Canyon Road.

Sanchez said this was a joint response from multiple North County crews and also crews from Riverside. He said they used a direct attack on this fire, meaning they fought it using both crews on the ground and drops from the sky.

Sanchez said this fire is a somber reminder of the severity of fire season.

"We’re here. We’re in fire season. It’s not something that’s off in the distance anymore. We are there, up and down the state right now we are experiencing fires just like this and it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a large destructive fire. We need the community to stay prepared with us," he said.

He added that a majority of fires are started by humans and while many are not intentional, they are all preventable. He said it's up to the community to stop fires from happening.

"When folks recognize the sheer number of fires that we are responsible for, and they adjust behavior as a result, I think we’ll see a drop in fires but right now that’s simply not something we’re seeing," said Sanchez.

He said it's unclear how this fire started.

"Everything is a possibility right now. We come into every single vegetation fire treating it like it is a crime scene and until the clues and indicators show us that it is not, that’s the path that we walk down," said Sanchez.

According to the National Weather Service, winds in the area are gusting 10 to 15 miles per hour with a relative humidity of 50 percent. Conditions in California are exceptionally dry right now, leading to an increased risk of a fire spreading rapidly if it does spark.