64-acre brush fire threatens homes

Brush fire threatens homes. Photo/Rod Hepburn
Brush fire threatens homes. Photo/Rod Hepburn

By Maureen Robertson

A brush fire that started at Rancho Maria Lane and State Route 67 Saturday afternoon spread across the fields

toward Royal Vista Drive, threatening homes and other structures and burning about 64 acres, Cal Fire officials report.

At one point embers blew with the prevailing winds, sparking another fire, and the two burned into each other, CalFire/Ramona Capt. Josh Black said.

Officials continued to investigate the cause of the fire on Tuesday, but one witness reported the cause was “a truck carrying something emitting hot embers like a barbecue.”

“We have a few leads to follow up on,” CalFire Capt. Mike Mohler said Tuesday morning.

The fire started about 1:10 p.m. and firefighters stopped its forward rate of spread at 2:36 p.m., reported Mohler.

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Winds blow fire close to structures. Photo/Rod Hepburn

“The big push was not to get it to Dye Road,” said Black.

At least 100 firefighters fought the blaze, said Black, including CalFire/Ramona, U.S. Forest Service, inmate hand crews and local agency chiefs from Barona. CalFire and forest service helicopters and air tankers dropped water and retardant on the fire, as did a heavy air tanker from Montana that the forest service has contracted.

The route of the fire included the area behind Hanson Elementary School. Residents and other onlookers watched, some snapping photographs and video, as firefighters extinguished the threat.

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Helicopter dumps water on the fire as smoke billows behind Hanson Elementary School. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

“I want to thank all the folks who helped save our home as well as CalFire, who did a ballet over our heads,” one man commented on the Sentinel’s website. “Selflessness such as Tracy Boyd and his family, and Rod Hepburn, and the Hispanic guy who handled the hoses but who left before I got his name, is more than appreciated. It gives you hope about us as folks.

“I was driving near this fire and I must say those firefighters did an awesome job,” another commented on the website. “The fire was a few hundred feet from somebody’s barn and horses. I’m glad our tax dollars were really well spent today.”

Not everyone was pleased. Route 67 traffic was stopped while crews fought the fire close to the highway.

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A plane heads away from the fire after dropping retardant on the blaze. Photo/Eric Kozakiewicz

“Yeah, sure, our tax dollars at work, — with police blockade! Infringing on our right to travel,” one person commented as “concerned taxpayer.”

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A Cal Fire plane drops retardant on the fire near Equestrian Trail off Dye Road Saturday afternoon. Sentinel photo/Phillip GarnettFirefighters work to extinguish the brush fire in the field next to Hanson Elementary School. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson
   
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