Residents Head Home After Julian Fire Evacuations Lifted

Evacuations were ordered in Kentwood and Whispering Pines areas of Julian and for those living along Ramona Drive

Residents who were evacuated Thursday morning following a fast-moving brush fire that threatened 200 homes near Julian were allowed back to their homes at 8 p.m. Thursday, officials said.

The 217-acre Banner Fire was 100 percent contained as of Sunday morning after it was first reported at 10:38 a.m. Thursday in the Whispering Pines area, according to Cal Fire. It sparked along Banner Grade in the area east of downtown Julian, officials said.

Two homes and an outbuilding along Woodland Road were destroyed by fire and one firefighter was taken to the hospital with injuries. The firefighter’s condition Thursday evening was not immediately known.

The fire stretch to 150 acres by afternoon, but firefighters said as of 2 p.m. that they were making good progress, though the rough terrain surrounding the fires posed a challenge for crews.

“Smoky, red, horrible,” one resident said of the fire, which came up right behind his home.

San Diego County sheriff's deputies evacuated residents in the Kentwood and Whispering Pines areas, as well as those living along Ramona Drive.

Residents interviewed by NBC 7 said they were grateful they evacuated when they did.

“As we walked out the door, that's when we discovered the fire,” said evacuee Adrianne Murtagh. “We’re so relieved we could bring the pets with us and not have to worry about them.”

More than 100 firefighters were on the scene, aided by a half-dozen aircraft, including two helicopters and four air tankers, Cal Fire officials told NBC News. There were also two water tenders and an air tanker from the U.S., along with one hot shot crew and five engines.

State Route 78 at Manzanita Drive and Manzanita Drive at Lakeview Drive were closed to traffic, according to deputies. On Friday, SR-78 remained closed between Julian High School and Scissors Crossing.

Officials originally established Julian High School as a temporary evacuation site but then dedicated Jess Martin County Park, located at 2955 Highway 79, as a new evacuation center.

As of 5 p.m. Thursday, evacuees were then told to head to Julian High School before later being allowed to return home.

At the fire's peak, a large plume of smoke over the mountains in San Diego's East County was visible from as far away as El Cajon.

The small mountain town is near a section of Cleveland National Forest.

View Banner Grade Fire in a larger map

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