Wildfire rages in triple-digit heat

CalFire photo of Chihuahua Fire
CalFire photo of Chihuahua Fire

UPDATE: 6 P.M. FRIDAY: The fire is  30 percent contained. The afternoon's thundershowers significantly dampened the fire activity, reported Roxanne Provaznik with CalFire. Firefighters still have 2.5 miles of containment line to construct. The estimated cost to date to fight the fire is $1.3 million.

Twenty-six fire crews, 37 engines, 11 bulldozers, 7 water tenders, 12 helicopters, 6 airtankers, 51 overhead positions, for a total of 785 firefighters, are assigned to the incident, reported Provaznik.


The Chihuahua Fire is 1,650 acres and 10 percent contained, reports CalFire Friday afternoon, explaining the increase in acreage from the 900 acres previously reported is due to more accurate mapping.

There are thunderstorms and light precipitation in the area near Warner Springs northeast of Ramona.

Ground and air crews labor amid humidity and triple-digit heat to subdue a wildfire that has blackened the area and prompted evacuations in backcountry territory northeast of Palomar Mountain.

Lightning sparked the blaze about 1 p.m. Thursday off Chihuahua Valley Road, east of State Route 79, authorities reported.

Firefighters from local, state and federal agencies worked through the afternoon and overnight to get lines around the fast-moving flames.

The fast-moving flames caused no known structural damage while devouring heavy brush in remote sites that had not burned in many years, Cal Fire Battalion Chief Nick Schuler said. One firefighter suffered heat-related trauma while battling the and was airlifted to a hospital.

Firefighters are battling the blaze, dubbed the Chihuahua Fire, amid muggy conditions and temperatures reaching 103 degrees, according to Schuler.

About 7:30 p.m. Thursday, authorities began advising residents in the immediate area to pack up and leave their homes as a precaution. Overnight, mandatory evacuation orders—which technically cannot be enforced in California—went out to about 200 households.

The American Red Cross opened a shelter for evacuees at Warner Springs High School.

Deputies also planned to clear everyone out of Lost Valley Boy Scout Camp on Chihuahua Valley Road Friday afternoon as a safety measure, sheriff’s Lt. Paul Robbins said.

   
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