Fire scorches 17,000 acres, 11 homes east of San Diego

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SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — The Valley Fire burning about 30 miles east of San Diego is now forcing school closures and new evacuation orders for people in the area near the community of Alpine.

Two people suffered injuries or illness according to fire officials, but did not provide information about their conditions. Cal Fire said Monday that the fire had destroyed 11 homes, with an additional 25 outbuildings that have burned as well.

On Sunday, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for San Diego County.

The fire has now scorched 17,345 acres, according to Cal Fire officials. The fire, which started Saturday, is 3 percent contained.

A total of 374 firefighters battled the wildfire with equipment that included 56 engines, six bulldozers and seven water tenders.

Monday was the third day of extreme heat that firefighters faced as they continued the battle against the fast-moving fire. The National Weather Service in San Diego put out a Red Flag Warning that will be in effect until 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Red Flag Warnings are issued when conditions will be favorable for rapid fire spread and extreme fire behavior. Outdoor burning is not recommended.

Cal Fire said Monday it will use military aircraft on the fire, exercising the department’s agreement with the Navy Third Fleet and the First Marine Expeditionary Force. This adds six helicopters to the fire fight.

San Diego Gas & Electric reported that several thousand customers in the area have been affected by the fire. Officials also reported that there was an immediate threat to Sunrise Power 500 KV power lines, which supply a large portion of San Diego County’s electricity.

California has seen 900 wildfires since Aug. 15, many of them started by an intense series of lightning strikes, although, according to Cal Fire, a smoke-generating device used during a gender-reveal party ignited a large fire near Yucaipa, California.

That fire has destroyed more than 8,000 acres.

In all, the fires have burned more than 2 million acres across California, setting a record for a single year, according to Cal Fire. The previous record was 1.8 million acres, set in 2018.

Fire officials worry there’s still a long way to go this fire season.

“It’s a little unnerving because September and October are historically our worst months for fires,” said Lynne Tolmachoff, spokesperson with Cal Fire. “It’s usually hot and the fuels really dry out, and we see more of our events.”

Eight fire-related deaths have been reported so far this year throughout California.

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