West Fire in Alpine burns over 500 acres, multiple homes
ALPINE (KUSI) – Cal Fire San Diego says the West Fire in the Alpine area is now 504 acres and 81 percent contained, with 18 structures destroyed and 8 damaged.
#WestFire [update] Firefighters continue to make good progress. The fire remains 400 acres & containment has risen to 30%. Report of 18 structures have been destroyed & 8 structures damaged. All evacuation warnings/orders remain in place until further notice. Photo By Kevin Pack pic.twitter.com/LgU6G82jPu
— CAL FIRE SAN DIEGO (@CALFIRESANDIEGO) July 7, 2018
A fast-moving brush fire leveled homes and forced evacuations Friday while tearing through rural neighborhoods near Viejas Casino amid a scorching heat wave.
A fast-moving wildfire ripped through rural neighborhoods near Viejas Casino amid a blistering heat wave Friday, leveling homes, blackening hundreds of acres, forcing evacuations and prompting Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a local state of emergency.
The blaze erupted for unknown reasons alongside eastbound Interstate 8 at West Willows Road in Alpine about 11:15 a.m. Friday, according to Cleveland National Forest officials.
The wind-stoked flames soon reached a “critical” rate of spread, Cal Fire reported.
Live television news footage showed large tile-roofed homes and what appeared to be residential trailers and small outbuildings engulfed in fire. Dozens of structures appeared to have been gutted. Cal Fire officials, for their part, reported that “numerous” dwellings and other edifices had been lost.
Crews from various local agencies attacked the blaze on the ground and aboard water- and retardant-dropping aircraft while braving midday heat measured by the National Weather Service at 108 degrees.
Sheriff’s deputies urged residents of Alpine Oaks Estates and areas south of the intersection of Alpine Boulevard and South Grade Road to clear out of their homes immediately.
The American Red Cross set up an overnight evacuation site at Los Coches Creek Middle School on Dunbar Lane, and a temporary shelter was established in a parking lot at Viejas Casino. Lakeside Rodeo on Mapleview Street was providing room for livestock of residents in threatened neighborhoods.
KUSI’s Sasho Foo was live at Los Coches Creek Middle School:
About 1:30 p.m., the California Highway Patrol blocked off two of the three lanes of eastbound I-8 in the area as crews worked to subdue the blaze, dubbed the West Fire.
Authorities also closed various neighborhood streets in the area, including Alpine Boulevard between Tavern Road and West Willows Road; Arnold Way between Tavern Road and Alpine Boulevard; South Grade Road between Tavern Road and Alpine Boulevard; Tavern Road at Dehesa Road; and the Willow Road offramp from eastbound I-8, near the origin point of the blaze.
By 4 p.m., firefighters had the roughly 400-acre burn area about 5 percent contained, and all lanes of the nearby freeway were open again. An hour later, crews had the spread of the flames halted.
One crew member suffered minor burn injuries to his face while battling the blaze, and was expected to remain hospitalized overnight, Cal Fire reported. No other injuries were reported.
Watch Live: Authorities give update on the #WestFire in Alpine that has burned over 400 acres and multiple homes
At the height of the blaze, about 3,500 homes and businesses at and around the site of the wildfire were without power, according to San Diego Gas & Electric. Some of those addresses are served by a circuit that the utility decided to deactivate as a precaution, and the rest lost service due to fire-related equipment damage, SDG&E spokesman Wes Jones said.
As of 6:30 p.m. Friday, repair crews had restored power to all but 190 of the affected customers. By Saturday morning, SDGE estimated that power would be restored to the remaining 159 residents by 5:00PM.
In the late afternoon, the governor’s office announced the issuance of an emergency proclamation for the San Diego area “due to the effects of the West Fire.”
The gubernatorial decree clears the way for the state to provide immediate disaster assistance to the county, allows for expedited unemployment benefits for anyone who lost a job due to the blaze and waives fees for replacement of documents — including birth certificates, marriage licenses and vehicle titles — lost to the conflagration.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department reports that the American Red Cross is setting up an overnight evacuation site at Los Coches Creek Middle School in El Cajon, at 9669 Dunbar Lane.
San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is reporting the need for IMMEDIATE evacuations at Highland Mobile Home Park and the area immediately behind the Albertson’s located at 2955 Alpine Blvd. Individuals can evacuate to Viejas Casino (5000 Willows Road). An evacuation center has been set up at Viejas Casino parking lot 11. A second evacuation center at an SDG&E parking lot has been set up at 1100 Tavern Rd.
CalTrans San Diego is reporting the Eastbound I-8 on-ramp from Tavern Road is closed and ONE lane of eastbound I-8,
west of West Willows Road, is closed due to
Click here for road updates.
The Lakeside Rodeo Grounds at 12584 Mapleview Drive is open for large animal evacuations, according to the San Diego County Department of Animal Services. Anyone needing assistance with large animal evacuations may contact the department at (619) 498-2361.
Some inmate firefighters were seen escaping the flames as the fire quickly grew in the area surrounding them. None of them appeared to be injured.
This is a developing story and KUSI will continue to update it as more information is gathered.