valley fire

Firefighters Hold Valley Fire at 17,665 Acres, 87% Containment

The Valley Fire sparked on Sept. 5 in heavy brush near Alpine; it has since scorched 17,665 acres

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What to Know

  • As of Sunday evening, Cal Fire San Diego said the Valley Fire was holding at 17,665 and was 87% contained.
  • By Friday, all evacuation orders, warnings and road closures in the Valley Fire zone had been lifted.
  • The Valley Fire has injured at least two people and destroyed 30 homes.

Fire activity remained minimal throughout Sunday as firefighters continued to mop up hot spots and secure the fire perimeter, Cal Fire said.

The fire, southeast of Alpine, has burned 17,665 acres, destroyed 30 residences and 31 outbuildings, damaged 11 other structures, injured three firefighters and was 87% contained by Sunday evening.

All evacuation orders, warnings, and road closures were lifted Friday for those impacted by the ongoing blaze as crews continued to gain ground in a weeklong fight against the devastating fire.

Cleveland National Forest remained closed to the public until further notice "to protect natural resources and provide for the safety of the public and firefighters," Cal Fire advised.

Since sparking on the afternoon of Sept. 5 at Spirit Trail and Japatul Valley Road, the wildfire had destroyed 30 homes and 31 outbuildings. The firefight was made in an effort by 854 personnel.

“With outstanding work from your firefighters, we were able to hold this west side in essence to the same footprint that it was in the day before -- nothing short of amazing that we were able to hold the fire there," said Operations Section Chief Mike Milkovich.

Throughout the course of the response, crews were up against a heat wave on the weekend the fire sparked, a red flag alert and dry Santa Ana winds that threatened their progress.

The Valley Fire near Alpine has been burning for seven days NBC 7s Marianne Kushi shares the latest updates

The cause of the Valley Fire is under investigation. Cal Fire reported at least two injuries linked to the fire but no further details were given.

The Valley Fire sparked on Sept. 5 during Labor Day weekend, as an oppressive heat wave swept San Diego County. The dry, hot weather created fire-prone conditions and prompted a red flag fire warning. At one point, it forced as many as 1,420 people to evacuate their homes.

As many residents were able to return to their homes Friday, Cal Fire closed a temporary evacuation center at El Capitan High School in Lakeside. The agency said emergency lodging was still available for victims of the Valley Fire via the American Red Cross.


Air Quality

San Diego County's air quality continues to be impacted by the Valley Fire. On Saturday, Purple Air reported that parts of the region are in the 101 a 150 air quality index range, which is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Elderly residents, children and those with a compromised respiratory system are considered to be a part of sensitive groups, and are advised to stay indoors if possible.

Running an air purifier, closing all windows and reducing outdoor exercise could help in preventing from getting sick by the air.

The air quality is expected to be unhealthy for sensitive groups from Sunday to Wednesday.

Evacuations

All evacuation orders and warnings were lifted Friday. The final communities allowed to repopulate were:

  • Lyons Valley Road east of Barrett Lake Rd
  • Forest Park Road and all roads connecting to Forest Park Rd
  • Rudnick Drive east of Forest Park Road

Cal Fire cautioned those returning to the fire-ravaged area Friday to "use extreme caution around trees, power poles and other tall objects or structures that may have been weakened" by the blaze.

Road Closures

As of 12 p.m. Friday, the San Diego County Sheriff's Departmnet and Cal Fire said all road closures in the Valley Fire zone had been lifted. This included the final set of closures here:

  • Westbound Japatul Road at Lyons Valley Road
  • Eastbound Japatul Road at Hidden Glen Road
  • Eastbound Sloan Canyon Road at Sloan Canyon Road (Forest Route 16SD1)
  • Eastbound Lawson Valley Road at Wood Valley Trail
  • Eastbound Rudnick Drive at Forest Park Road
  • Eastbound Skyline Truck Trail at Hilary Drive
  • Eastbound Lyons Valley Road at Skyline Truck Trail (Honey Spring Road)
  • Southbound Lyons Valley Road at Horse Thief Trailhead
  • Northbound Lyons Valley Road at Lawson Peak Trailhead
  • Westbound Morena Stokes Valley Road (Corral Canyon) at Buckman Springs Road
NBC 7's Dave Summers has the latest from the Valley Fire.

Meanwhile, as communities in the fire zone are repopulated, some roads in the fire zone may still be open to residents only, so ID and proof of residency may be required to get into those areas.

Find tips on how to safely return home after a wildfire here.


Power Outages

The Valley Fire caused outages for some customers in the fire zone throughout the week. This includes some 1,300 customers who remained without power Wednesday night in parts of Dulzura, Dehesa, Alpine, Lyons Valley, Barrett Lake, and Rancho Palo Verde, where San Diego Gas & Electric said the fire had damaged equipment.

All but 8 customers had their power restored by Friday.

Over the course of the fire, some customers in the west Descanso, Viejas, and Boulder Creek areas, had their power shut off due to "unsafe conditions in the area," but power has since been restored.

In anticipation of Santa Ana winds that peaked Wednesday, SDG&E notified more than 16,000 backcountry residents of possible public safety power shutoffs (PSPS). PSPS's are a last resort for the utility when trying to reduce fire risk during weather events.

Nearly 50 people had their power shut off Tuesday evening due to gusty winds. The power was restored by Wednesday morning.

SDG&E said no further PSPS outages are expected at this time. For changes, visit here. Customers can also monitor PSPS status relative to their community online, or with SDG&E's new PSPS app.

SDG&E urges anyone who has received a PSPS warning to activate their emergency preparedness plans.


Resources

San Diego County has established a local assistance resource center for victims of the Valley Fire at the Rancho San Diego Library located at 15555 Via Rancho San Diego Rd.

The goal is to provide a one-stop-shop for everything that those affected by the wildfire may need -- from the American Red Cross to the California Dept. of Insurance.

Some of the services county departments will provide include information about people’s homes, properties and permits; emergency temporary occupancy and power permits; general guidance about rebuilding; housing assistance; connection to crisis counseling; CalFresh (food stamp) cards; vital records; help for older adults and people with disabilities; health screenings and first aid.

The center will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, and Sunday, Sept. 13. It'll also be open on Monday, Sept. 14, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The county also established a recovery hotline and email to help residents who have been impacted by the Valley Fire. To contact the recovery hotline by phone, call (858) 715-2200 or email the hotline at ValleyFireRecovery@sdcounty.ca.gov.

The hotline will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and this upcoming weekend when employees answer phone calls and incoming emails.

After this weekend, emails and phone calls will be answered Monday through Friday, according to the county.

San Diego County Sheriff William Gore said all residents should sign up for emergency alerts, either through the AlertSanDiego app or for text or call alerts from the county Office of Emergency Services, and keep their phones close by and charged. If the time comes for mandatory evacuations, sheriff's deputies will go door-to-door to alert residents as well.

If you are interested in helping residents who have been affected by the Valley Fire, click here.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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