Fight to subdue Laguna-area wildfire continues

MOUNT LAGUNA (CNS) – Crews battled for a fourth day Tuesday to contain an East County wildfire that blackened more than 4,700 acres and destroyed scores of mountain cabins and vacation trailers southeast of Julian.

The so-called Chariot Fire was only about 15 percent contained by 6 this morning and continued to spread over back-country terrain in the Mount Laguna area, according to Cal Fire.

On Monday, the conflagration pushed across Sunrise Highway from the east and tore through Al Bahr Shrine Camp, gutting a lodge, social hall and about 10 log cabins, all built in the 1920s, along with 85 or more residential trailers, said Arnold Korey, secretary-treasurer for the club.

A nearby lodge operated by the San Diego chapter of the Sierra Club also was lost, authorities reported.

As of early today, the blaze was “well established” west of the rural highway, Cal Fire Capt. Mike Mohler said. About 1,675 personnel were fighting the flames from the ground and air. Authorities said 108 fire engines, 12 helicopters, four air tankers, 19 bulldozers and 25 water trucks were sent to area.

Five crew members have suffered heat exhaustion and other minor injuries while fighting the fire, which erupted for unknown reasons early Saturday afternoon near Chariot Mountain and Butterfield Ranch.

Authorities cleared everyone out of 20 residences potentially in the path of the flames Sunday night and from 100 others the next morning. This morning, the evacuation zone covered Sunrise Highway between mile markers 17 and 29, Mohler said.

The American Red Cross has been running an emergency shelter for the displaced residents and campers at Joan MacQueen Middle School on Tavern Road in Alpine.

Aiding Cal Fire in battling the blaze, handling evacuations and working road closures were the U.S. Forest Service; California State Parks and Highway Patrol; and San Diego County Fire Authority and Sheriff's Department.

Categories: KUSI