Valley Fire Scorches Through 5,350 Acres; 1% Contained

What to Know

  • Fire is at 5,350 acres as of 3:40 p.m. Sunday
  • The blaze is 1% contained, according to Cal Fire
  • Evacuation orders for Lawson Valley and the community of Carveacre Road remain in place.

The stubborn Valley Fire has scorched through at least 5,350 acres as of Sunday with the blaze being 1% contained, Cal Fire announced.

Evacuation orders remain in place Sunday for those threatened by the Valley Fire, which has been burning in the East County near Alpine since Saturday amid sweltering heat.

The unforgiving fire, which is burning at a “critical/dangerous rate of speed,” destroyed 10 structures in its path and forced residents from Lawson Valley and the community of Carveacre Road to flee their homes under an active evacuation order.

Cal Fire said that in addition to the evacuated areas, the wildfire is threatening buildings in Wood Valley, Lyons Valley, Deer Horn Valley and Sycuan Indian Reservation.


The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said an evacuation warning was placed in effect for residents in the areas of State Route 94 and Marron Valley, as well as Lyons Valley Road areas out to the Morena Reservoir.

An evacuation warning means that vacating the premises is voluntary, and not mandatory. It serves as a warning for residents that they should prepare to vacate their homes if an evacuation order is issued.

Temporary evacuation sites are available at Steele Canyon High School in Spring Valley, located at 12440 Campo Rd., and at Joan MacQueen Middle School in Alpine, located at 2001 Tavern Rd.

Joan MacQueen Middle School was temporarily closed Sunday before officials reopened it as a shelter for those who were displaced in the fire.

Authorities said family pets are welcomed at the evacuation centers.

The American Red Cross of the Southern California Region is assisting those who have been displaced.

“As long as you can see things, take your time, get your animals, if that’s what you want to do then do it,” advised Charlie Kouns, who lives in the impacted area.

Residents in the immediately impacted area packed what they could and left as quickly as possible as thick plumes of smoke billowed above. Some locals were seen getting their horses to safety.

The San Diego Humane Society said its emergency response team will be helping with animal evacuations Sunday. Those who would like their assistance can call SDHS at 619-299-7012 and press 1.

Large animals will also be held in an evacuation site at the County Animal Services South Shelter in Bonita. SDHS can assist in evacuating large animals and family pets are also welcomed at the location, sheriffs said.

Photos: Valley Fire Scorches Up to 4,000 Acres Near Alpine

Road Closures

SDSO said a series of road closures will remain in effect as the firefight against the vegetation fire continues. The following roads will be closed until further notice:

  • Japatul Road and Sequan Truck Trail
  • Japatul Road and Carveacre Road
  • Japatul Road and Hidden Glen
  • Wisecarver Lane and Wisecarver Truck Trail
  • Skyline Truck Trail and Lawson Valley
  • Montiel Truck Trail and West Boundary Truck Trail
  • Montiel Truck Trail and Lawson Valley Road

Heat Conditions

It’s been a difficult firefight for crews as they face triple-digit temperatures during a relentless heat wave in San Diego County. The county is under a red flag warning through 6 p.m. Sunday as dry, scorching temps make for risky, fire-prone conditions.

“I saw lots and lots of fire,” said Manuel Baeza, a Lawson Valley resident. “Lots of fire. Big, big flames, maybe like 60 feet or 80 feet high.”

NBC 7’s Lauren Coronado is at an evacuation center with the latest.

NBC 7 meteorologist Crystal Egger said sunny conditions with a high temperature of 112 degrees is forecast in the Japatul Valley area, where the fire first sparked.

East winds will be on average 5 to 10 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Smoke will be moving in a west and northwest direction, Egger said.

Air Quality

The San Diego County Air Pollution Control District issued a smoke advisory on Saturday that continued on into Sunday due to the Valley Fire.

“The smoke dispersed throughout much of the western portion of San Diego County overnight and has also traveled offshore,” the county said in a statement. “While much of this smoke remains above ground level, there is smoke affecting the inland valleys west of Alpine as of Sunday morning.”

In areas of heavy smoke, the county advises residents to assume the air quality is unhealthy. Where there’s minor smoke, residents should assume the air quality is moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups.

The county warns that inland valley and coastal communities could be impacted as the day progresses. In areas impacted by the smoke, fine particulates, or PM2.5 concentrations, may reach unhealthful levels.

If possible, it’s best to stay indoors in areas where you smell smoke. Physical and outdoor activities should be limited.

Children, the elderly and individuals with respiratory or heart disease are most susceptible to injuries in connection with fine particulate matter.

Cal Fire San Diego first received word of the fire just before 3 p.m. off Spirit Trail and Japatul Road and said the blaze had a “dangerous rate of speed.” As the inferno progressed, San Diego Air Pollution Control issued a smoke advisory Saturday.

Fire officials have not reported any injuries in connection to the blaze.

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