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Crews hold steady in fight against Chariot Fire

SAN DIEGO – A change in direction of wind aided in establishing a stronger containment line west of the Chariot Fire that has damaged over a hundred structures, fire officials said Tuesday.

The wildfire has scorched at least 7,055 acres and destroyed or damaged 120 structures in the Mount Laguna area, Cal Fire Captain Mike Mohler said. Firefighters had 40 percent containment of the blaze as of 4 p.m.

Chariot_Fire02The winds coming from the west helped firefighters in the Storm Canyon area, west of Sunrise Highway, which is the most active location of the fire, Mohler said. They predict full containment by Sunday, July 14.

Structures at Al Bahr Shrine Camp experienced the most destruction as of Tuesday, Mohler said.  The Foster Lodge, also run by the Sierra Club’s San Diego chapter, went untouched by the fire although a small lodge nearby was destroyed, he said.

The Chariot Fire, named after the area of its origin, broke out just before 1 p.m. Saturday east of Sunrise Highway, about nine miles southeast of Julian.

Evacuations remain in effect, including Sunrise Highway from mile marker 17 to 29, and are expected through Wednesday afternoon, as crews secure gas and electrical lines throughout the area, the Cal Fire captain said.

The American Red Cross set up an emergency shelter for the displaced at Joan McQueen Middle School at 2001 Tavern Road in Alpine.

The International Equestrian Center at 16911 Gunn Stage Road in Ramona is open for people to bring their own pets and stay. Pets cannot be dropped off.

Any animals evacuated by Animal Services will be taken to Creek Hollow Ranch at 25279 Creek Hollow Road in Ramona.

Cal Fire also reported that as of this morning, 2,100 firefighters were fighting the flames from the air and ground, and five crew members have suffered minor injuries since the fire began. Three of them were heat-related and a fourth was a facial cut, Cal Fire Capt. Mike Mohler said. The nature of the fifth injury was unclear.

A total of 50 firefighter crews assigned to the Chariot Fire were working with 108 fire engines, 12 helicopters, four air tankers, 19 bull dozers and 25 water tenders, according to Cal Fire. Aiding Cal Fire in the effort were the U.S. Forest Service, California State Parks, and the county Fire Authority and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

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