(CNS) — Authorities evacuated a campground near Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Friday as firefighters worked to corral a wildfire that has scorched thousands of open acres in rugged terrain east of Julian.
About 50 people were cleared out of Stagecoach Trails RV Park & Resort in the early afternoon when the blaze, dubbed the Banner Fire, flared up while moving to the southeast through Shelter Valley, authorities said.
The county opened an evacuation center at Borrego Springs High School for any displaced campers who needed it.
The fire erupted for unknown reasons in the Cigarette Hills area near Banner Grade early Thursday afternoon. Within two hours, it had grown to 1,000-plus acres, driven by steady winds from the west.
The flames have spread over more than 2,500 acres, closing several highways and moving toward some inhabited areas but causing no known structural damage or injuries, according to Cal Fire. By late Friday morning, crews had the burn area roughly 20 percent contained, said Nick Schuler, a battalion chief for the state agency.
“There’s been a lot of work done overnight,” he said. “The winds have increased a little bit, but we’re making good progress.”
Shortly after the blaze erupted, authorities cleared residents out of about 100 backcountry residences potentially in its path in Shelter Valley. Those evacuees were allowed to return to their homes within 12 hours.
Hundreds of personnel have been working the fire lines, aided by crews aboard air tankers and water-dropping helicopters. There have been no estimates for projected time of full containment or control.
It was unclear what sparked the flames, which moved through an area scorched last October by a 2,100-acre blaze dubbed the Great Fire.