Crews battle spate of East County lightning fires

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Hundreds of firefighters worked by ground and air Tuesday to contain four lightning-sparked East County blazes that have blackened thousands of open acres and prompted authorities to prepare to evacuate a small community potentially in the path of the flames.

By late morning, the Wilson, Stewart, Cooper and Vallecito fires had scorched a total of more than 2,350 acres since erupting Sunday and Monday, according to Cal Fire. The latter was burning southeast of Julian, while the others were all located northeast of the historic former mining town.

In the mid-afternoon, the largest of blazes — the Wilson Fire — was moving to the north through Grapevine Canyon toward Ranchita, prompting sheriff's officials to begin advising residents of the community southwest of Borrego Springs to prepare to evacuate on short notice.

As of the latest mapping, the Wilson Fire had spread over the largest area, 1,400 acres, while the Stewart Fire was 600 acres in size, the Vallecito Fire 350 acres and the Cooper Fire about two acres, Cal Fire reported.

The blazes, cumulatively called the Vallecito Lightning Complex, had caused no structural damage by 3 p.m., according to Mike Mohler, a fire captain with the state agency.

One firefighter suffered heat exhaustion Monday while battling the flames.

All of the blazes were ignited by electrical storms, Cal Fire reported.

Categories: KUSI