Lightning fires spread through backcountry

Vallecito Fire. CalFire photo
Vallecito Fire. CalFire photo

Crews labored Monday to contain a spate of lightning-sparked brush fires that blackened hundreds of open acres east of Julian and near the U.S.-Mexico line.

The first blaze erupted about 8 p.m. Sunday off Mason Valley Truck Trail, in the Vallecito area, according to CalFire. By early Monday evening, it had grown to about 350 acres, said Nick Schuler, a battalion chief with the state agency.

More than 600 lightning strikes were reported in San Diego County on the day the Vallecito Fire started spreading, Schuler said.

Early Monday afternoon, more electrical-storm activity sparked two other fires near Scissors Crossing, north of the initial burn area. One, designated the Wilson Fire, had grown to roughly 600 acres by shortly after 5 p.m., by which time the other one — the Stewart Fire — was about 50 acres

Since the East County sites are not readily accessible to ground crews, only aircraft personnel were battling the flames, Schuler said.

At 4:30 p.m., yet another brush fire was reported in the Copper Canyon area, near Otay Mountain. The blaze, which had been burning in northern Mexico before spreading across the border, had burned roughly eight acres in the San Diego area by early evening, Schuler said.

None of the fires was posing any threats to inhabited areas, officials said.

Less than two hours before the Vallecito Fire began, crews fully contained the Chihuahua Fire, which had scorched more than 2,000 acres northwest of Warner Springs since Thursday afternoon.

That blaze — also ignited by lightning — prompted evacuations of about 200 ranches and cabins but caused no known structural damage.

CalFire estimated the cost of suppressing the Chihuahua Fire at $1.5 million.

   
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