#Borderfire near Potrero Grows to 1500 Acres

Photos: Tom and Nadin Abbott. Video Tom Abbott
This is via the Sherrif’s Office. :

We also got another important update from San Diego County. The Campo-Morena Village library is open as a cool zone. It is open from 10-6 and it is at 31356 Hwy 94, in Campo. To no surprise to neither of us, the Potrero library is closed due to the fire. 

Via Twitter 

1900 acres, 5 percent contained and 3 firefighters have been injured due to heat. Crews are coming from around the state. 

 San Diego Sheriff (@SDSheriff)

6/19/16, 6:49 PM

For help with large animal evacuations due to #BorderFire, call @SanDiegoCounty Animal Services at (619) 236-2341. 

June 19, 2016 (POTRERO) According to CAL FIRE Captain Issac Sanchez, the fire was at 900 acres at 6 in the afternoon, but before we went to press two hours later, the fire has exploded to 1500 acres. This fire started at 11 in the morning, with first units finding the start in a canyon at 2300 of Highway 94.

This is the raw footage of the Press Conference with Captain Isaac Sanchez, the Public Information Officer for the incident.

Units from all over the county have converged, and earlier in the day we were able to talk with Nancy Fritz, who told Reporting San Diego, “my house almost burned. The San Diego Fire Department saved my house!” (She meant the City of San Diego Fire Department, and thanked the crew as they left to the next fire.) She added that she was able to get the two dogs out, but was afraid for her cats. They were house cats. Thankfully, she expected to find the cats.

While we talked, she also remarked about her daughter, lived across the road. Her daughter was not at home, but owns horses. That property was doused by a Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT). They can be DC-10 specialized for the fire fighting mission, or other large aircraft. The houses, and even vehicles were covered in pink goo. This is the fire retardant, that should keep that property safe.

We saw multiple drops by the VLAT over the course of the day. At one point we had one come at us, as we drove on the 94.We also saw fire units from multiple agencies, from rural, to Heartland, to Chula Vista and Sycuan, as well as CAL FIRE.

Speaking of live stock, the County sent in animal welfare to help with the evacuation of horses and other live stock. As we were going into the fire, we did hear over the radio that at one point they had to let the horses loose. Officers did not have a way to get them out.


Aaron Richter Protecting a Neighbor’s Property

In the same area, behind the Potrero General Store, Aaron Richter bravely fought the fire with a garden hose, while structure protection teams also fought the fire.He was not a resident of any of the structures at direct threat, but a neighbor from across the valley, trying to help protect the homes of neighbors who chose to leave. It was purely, neighbors helping neighbors.

Structure protection groups are fire companies that during a wild land fire have a single mission, protect those structures from approaching flames.They fight and make stands where they can. But at times they have to move on. We also observed was that clearance of area was nowhere close to 100 feet, which is what CAL FIRE requires. At one point the flames were easily fifty feet high, and were visible behind the iconic store, that has stood in that region of the county for many years. It is an institution, and it is in front of the CAL FIRE Potrero Fire Station which is serving as a command center.


Further down the road we saw an out structure that did burn, but the structure protection teams stopped the fire right as it was getting to the walls. Captain Sanchez remarked at the six O’Clock briefing that they had 25-30 structures at direct threat, but no news of any home damaged or destroyed. Though he did remark that there were a couple out structures.

We also talked with Jesus Gonzalez, who was at the General Store waiting for information. He and his family, for people and five dogs, were waiting for information, and were not planning to evacuate.

There are mandatory evacuations, but as Captain Sanchez remarked, not everybody is willing to leave, and about 10 percent of the residents chose to stay in. There are three evacuation centers, two of them in Campo, One of them at the Community Center and one at the Campo Primary School, while the third is in Dulzura at the Community Center.

A note on conditions. While Sanchez is talking about the low humidity and high temps, our vehicle thermometer at one point read 110 degrees. By the fire line it is easily 130. You could feel the radiant heat as you stood even on the side of the 94. The terrain is extremely rocky and difficult and the area does have a history of wildfires. The last large one was the “Harris Fire.”

We also tried to drive down to Campo early in the incident. Fire was burning on both sides of the road, and smoke conditions were so bad that we turned around and went back to the command post. We literally could not see beyond the hood of the jeep. We also could feel the heat though the doors. As we arrived to the fire scene the fire was cresting on both sides of the road, and has been moving east. Wind is making it difficult to fight, as well as the rocky terrain.

As of 21:00 hours, there was no containment. There are also two hard closures, the first is on 94 and 188, which is the road leading to the Tecate Border crossing, the second is west of Campo.

And the County states that a shelter will be open overnight.

6/19/2016 9:05:00 PM PDT

The Sheriff’s Department and CAL FIRE report that an emergency shelter has been established at Campo Elementary School at 1654 Buckman Springs Rd. for evacuees of the Border Fire.

The shelter will be open overnight.

Evacuees at the two earlier temporary evacuation points — Campo Community Center, at 300 Sheridan Rd., and Dulzura Community Center at 16985 State Route 94 – are being directed to Campo Elementary School.

CAL FIRE reported as of 19:30 that the Border Fire had grown to 1,500 acres.

For additional information, visit @CALFIRESanDiego

All Mountain Empire schools will be closed tomorrow due to the #borderfire. 



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1 reply

  1. Far and away the most comprehensive and useful reporting on this story from any media source. Thank you!

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