By Karen Brainard
About 100 firefighters battled a blaze off Wildcat Canyon Road on Monday afternoon that burned about 70 acres but was under control in just under 1-1/2 hours.
Cal Fire has determined the fire was caused by a malfunctioning catalytic converter. The fire started about 3:05 p.m. in a portion of Barona Indian Reservation along Wildcat Canyon Road, just past Little Klondike Road, and burned into state responsibility areas, reported Cal Fire Battalion Chief Saul Villagomez with the Ramona Fire Department.
When the first unit arrived, the fire was 10 acres “with a moderate rate of spread,” said Villagomez.
“It was moving pretty well,” he said, adding that it was heading in a northeasterly direction.
Air tankers were called in and began dropping fire retardant to prevent it from spreading toward San Diego Country Estates.
A sheriff’s ASTREA helicopter flew over homes in an area of the Estates, advising residents not to panic, said Cal Fire Public Information Officer Mike Mohler.
No evacuations were ordered, but some residents were said to have voluntarily evacuated from homes on Calistoga Place, Moonglow Drive and Nectar Way in Country Estates, Villagomez said.
Villagomez said the fire was contained about 4:30 p.m. “due to ground troops and air tankers working in unison.” Air tankers were called off and fire crews continued to work into the evening and by midnight had the fire mopped up, he said.
Responding to the fire were 22 engines, six hand crews, three water tenders, a bulldozer, four local air tankers and two super tankers from San Bernardino County, according to Villagomez.
One firefighter suffered a heat-related injury, but was not transported to the hospital, reported Villagomez.
Wildcat Canyon Road was closed during mid-afternoon to early evening on Monday. On San Vicente Road east of Wildcat Canyon, drivers pulled over to view flames that were visible on a hilltop.
At San Vicente Golf Resort, people continued to golf and swim while Estates Association General Manager Mario Trejo stayed apprised of the fire’s progress.