Firefighters to work through night on brush fire east of Pine Valley

About 200 firefighters planned to work through the night to contain a brush fire that blackened 75 to 100 acres east of Pine Valley and prompted the temporary closure of a stretch of Interstate 8 in East County, authorities said.

The fire was reported to the California Highway Patrol shortly after 12:30 p.m. by callers on westbound Interstate 8 approaching Pine Valley, who said the smoke appeared to be from a fire about two miles north of Sunrise Highway.

About 2:45 p.m., San Diego Gas & Electric officials shut off power to 259 customers in Pine Valley, Mount Laguna, Japatul Valley, Buckman Springs, Morena Village and Guatay  “for safety reasons while repairs are being made,” according to the utility’s website. Service is expected to be restored around 8 p.m.

By about 5:15 p.m., it had grown to between 75 and 100 acres and was 5 percent contained, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Wende Cornelius said.

Cornelius said the fire was burning in an area with low fuel moisture and that was hard for firefighters to access. The winds could also be an issue, she said.

A National Weather Service wind advisory was in effect when the fire was reported, but expired at 2 p.m. Another advisory for the mountains and valleys is scheduled to take effect at 1 a.m.

East winds of 15 to 30 mph, with gusts of up to 45 mph, are expected Sunday morning, according to the National Weather Service. Sunday’s advisory is set to expire at 5 a.m.

Cornelius said 250 firefighters had been requested to assist in extinguishing the blaze on Sunday.

The fire prompted officials to temporarily detour traffic off eastbound Interstate 8 at Sunrise Highway, and westbound traffic off at Buckman Springs Road. Detoured traffic was allowed to use the frontage road, a section of old U.S. 80, to get past the smoky freeway lanes, but the closure was later lifted, CHP officials said.

As of 5:15 p.m., there were no closures inside the forest, according to Cornelius.

Cal Fire personnel assisted U.S. Forest Service firefighters at the vegetation fire, Cal Fire officials said. The Lakeside Fire Protection District dispatched a strike team and engines from Lakeside, Alpine, Viejas and Sycuan were also sent, Lakeside fire officials said.

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Posted by Maureen Robertson on Mar 8 2014. Filed under Backcountry, News, Sheriff/Fire. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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