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State of Emergency declared as Valley Fire rages to 9,850 acres

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Homes burned overnight Sunday as the Valley Fire raged through the East County, burning thousands of acres and prompting a state of emergency declaration.

Video from the scene showed structures and vehicles scorched by the flames. So far, 11 structures have been destroyed by the fire.

As of Sunday at 8:47 p.m., the fire has so far scorched 9,850 acres and is 1% contained, Cleveland National Forest says.

Structures are being threatened in the Carveacre and Lawson Valley, Wood Valley, Lyons Valley, and Deer Horn Valley. The agency added that power lines that supply a large portion of San Diego County are also threatened.

So far, evacuations have been ordered for the area. Early Sunday morning, additional evacuations were ordered for the areas west of the intersection of Japatul Road and Lyons Valley Road. An evacuation center has been set up at Steele Canyon High School at 2440 Campo Road and Joan MacQueen Middle School at 2001 Tavern Road.

The fire erupted near Sprint Trail and Japatul Road southeast of Alpine just before 3 p.m. on Saturday. According to the US Forest Service, 374 firefighters are battling the flames on the ground.

Crews said Saturday that the blaze had a dangerous rate of spread as high temperatures and a red flag warning persisted.

Sunday, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for San Diego County, in addition to several other counties where wildfires were burning. The declaration will free up federal funds to be used in response to the fires.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Valley Fire erupts in Japatul Valley area

Joan MacQueen Middle School was briefly closed Sunday as an evacuation center, but has since been reopened.

The County Animal Services South Shelter is also welcoming evacuated animals. The shelter is located at 5821 Sweetwater Road.

The San Diego Humane Society also said Sunday its emergency response team is assisting with animal evacuations. Anyone who needs help evacuating animals is asked to call 619-299-7012. “Remember to evacuate early, take your pets with you, bring food & water,” the organization said.

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The Valley Fire also caused air quality to plummet. The County Air Pollution Control District said Sunday that air quality in areas affected by smoke may reach unhealthy levels, compelling the agency to issue a smoke advisory.

Additionally, the air quality will be negatively affected by Ozone levels that are expected to be unhealthy for sensitive groups due to the extreme heat, the agency said.

“In areas of heavy smoke, assume that air quality levels are unhealthy for sensitive groups to unhealthy for all individuals. In areas with minor smoke impacts, assume that air quality levels range from moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups,” the organization said.

The district advised anyone who smells smoke to limit outdoor activity.

SDG&E says they are working with CalFire to solve any outages due to the fire, but need to wait for approval for their crews to be allowed into the area. The company said there were more than 3,300 customers without power due to the fire.

“When a fire burns in the vicinity of electrical equipment, as is the case with the Valley Fire, soot can accumulate on power lines and other equipment and affect their performance and integrity. Helicopters may be needed to wash off the residue from burned materials. Before re-energizing power lines in the vicinity of a fire, SDG&E must first be told by CALFIRE that it is safe for our crews to go into an area to assess the situation and determine what is required to restore power,” the company said on Twitter.



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