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Homes Destroyed As 4,000-Acre Fire Continues To Burn In Japatul Valley Area

UPDATE: 12:05 p.m., Sept. 6, 2020

The Valley Fire in the Japatul Valley near Alpine burned 4,000 acres overnight with no containment and 10 structures destroyed, Cal Fire San Diego said Sunday.

The fire began at approximately 2:15 p.m. Saturday off Spirit Trail and Japatul Road and was described early on by Cal Fire officials as burning at a dangerous rate of spread and as a medium threat to structures.

Cal Fire reported that 335 firefighters were on the ground battling the fire and that structures were being threatened in the Carveacre and Lawson Valley, Wood Valley, Lyons Valley, Deer Valley and Sycuan Indian Reservation. Resources include four bulldozers and five water tenders.

The Orange County Fire Authority on Saturday said it dispatched a “strike team” of five fire engines and two battalion chiefs to assist their southern colleagues, joining crews from the Cleveland National Forest and Cal Fire.

Cal Fire also reported that there was an threat to Sunrise Power 500 KV power lines, which supply a large portion of San Diego County’s electricity.

“Firefighters are working against extreme fire behavior with wind- driven runs and long-range spotting,” the agency said.

On Sunday morning, San Diego Gas & Electric reported power outages affecting 1,288 customers in the fire area.

Communities affected when the Valley Fire damaged the electric system were Dulzura, Potrero, Campo, Jamul, North Jamul, Lyons Valley and Barrett Lake. A total of 1,020 customers were affected and power was expected to be restored by 5 p.m.

The communities affected when weather damaged equipment were Dehesa, Alpine, Rancho Palo Verde, Harbison Canyon, Glen Oaks, West Alpine, Jamacha, West Jamul, Indian Springs, Lyons Valley, and Barrett Lake. A total of 268 customers in those areas were affected and SDG&E estimated power would be restored by 5 p.m. there as well.

The utility said it has crews staged at the site of the fire and will work to restore power once Cal Fire determines it is safe to enter the area.

At about 4 p.m. Saturday, Cal Fire said the community of Carveacre Road was threatened and under evacuation orders. An hour later, an evacuation order was issued for all of Lawson Valley. The fire front was one-mile long, according to Southern California Air Operations.

The evacuation center at Joan McQueen Middle School in Alpine has been closed, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. About 10 families showed up at the center on Saturday, received supplies and left.

The evacuation center at Steele Canyon High School, 12440 Campo Road in Spring Valley, was still open Sunday. The evacuation center, which allows pets, was set up by the American Red Cross, which will supply water, snacks and other items.

Those impacted by evacuation orders can reference an updated map on San Diego County’s Emergency Site.

A temporary evacuation point for large animals is the County Animal Services South Shelter at 5821 Sweetwater Road in Bonita. Contact county animal services at 619-236-2341. Residents who need help to evacuate animals from the brush fire can call the San Diego Humane Society at 619-299-7012 (press 1).

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Firefighters continue to battle a brushfire in the Japatul Valley area near Alpine. As of Sunday, 4,000 acres of land have burned, 10 structures have been destroyed and the fire is 0% contained, according to Cal Fire.

According to KPBS news partner KGTV, 335 firefighters are battling the flames on the ground. Structures are threatened in the Carveacre and Lawson Valley, Wood Valley, Lyons Valley, Deer Horn Valley and Sycuan Indian Reservation.

Power lines that support San Diego County are also being threatened. At 8:20 p.m., Saturday, SDG&E said the Valley Fire impacted its equipment in the vicinity of the fire, causing power outages in some areas. SDG&E has a map showing areas without power and estimates for when power may be restored on its outages map.

Air quality in San Diego County has been worsened by the Valley Fire, according to the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District. The agency issued a smoke advisory Saturday.

“Due to the Valley Fire burning near Alpine in San Diego County, localized areas of smoke are affecting parts of the County. Much of the smoke is high above ground level and can be seen throughout the northern half of San Diego County, but is not necessarily affecting people on the ground,” said the agency. “In areas of heavy smoke, assume that air quality levels are unhealthy for sensitive groups to unhealthy for all individuals.”

The fire began about 3 p.m. off Spirit Trail and Japatul Road and was described early by Cal Fire officials as burning at a dangerous rate of spread and a medium threat to structures. The fire burned about 500 acres in a single hour.

About 4 p.m., Cal Fire said the community of Carveacre Road was threatened and under evacuation orders. Multiple air and ground resources are on scene and en route.

About 5 p.m., an evacuation order was issued for all of Lawson Valley. The fire front was one-mile long, according to Southern California Air Operations.

Plumes of smoke could be seen for miles in East County.

Just before 10 p.m., the Orange County Fire Authority announced it had dispatched a “strike team” of five fire engines and two battalion chiefs to assist their southern colleagues, joining crews from the Cleveland National Forest and Cal Fire.

A temporary evacuation point has been set up at Steele Canyon High School in Spring Valley. Those impacted by evacuation orders can reference an updated map on San Diego County’s Emergency Site.

The San Diego Humane Society is assisting with animal evacuations in the area. The organization said that those needing help evacuating can call 619-299-7012 (press 1).

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