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Fire burning east of Julian blamed on gunfire

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julian-fireBANNER GRADE, Calif. — A brush fire that has charred nearly 1,000 acres in rugged desert terrain southeast of Julian since Sunday was started by recreational gunfire, authorities said.

Hundreds of firefighters were working Tuesday to control the blaze in the Banner Grade area, south of State Route 78 and east of SR-79. It was about 70 percent surrounded as of 6:30 this morning, according to Cal Fire. Full containment is expected Wednesday, the state agency reported.

One crew member suffered a minor injury while working to subdue the roughly 980-acre fire, which has caused no known structural damage.

Investigators determined that recreational shooting was the cause, Cal Fire Capt. Mike Mohler said.

It was not immediately clear if any suspects had been identified, cited or arrested.

The blaze — dubbed the General Fire due to its proximity to a landmark general store in the area — burned several miles from the site of the nearly 2,800-acre San Felipe Fire. That fire started north of Scissors Crossing on Thursday afternoon, when a Cal Fire prescribed burn that was supposed to clear brush from about 100 acres began spreading out of control due to unexpected wind shifts.

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