Crews gain upper hand on Border Fire

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POTRERO, Calif. - Firefighters entering their seventh day battling the Border Fire say they have contained 75 percent of the 7,600-acre wildfire that leveled homes and forced widespread evacuations in the far southern reaches of San Diego County.

As of 6 a.m., there were 1,771 personnel on the scene, including 57 hand crews, 10 helicopters, 23 water tenders, 130 fire engines and four bulldozers, according to Cal Fire. Officials say no structures are currently threatened.

The cause of the fire, which erupted last Sunday morning near state Routes 94 and 188 just north of the U.S.-Mexico line, was under investigation.

``Fire activity was minimal last night and the constructed line continued to hold,'' Capt Kendal Bortisser said Saturday. ``Firefighters continue to construct containment lines and mop up on the north end of the fire.''

In addition to Cal Fire, other agencies that have responded to the fire include San Diego Gas & Electric, San Diego County Fire, U.S. Border Patrol, California Department of Transportation, California Highway Patrol, San Diego County Sheriff's Department, Bureau of Land Management, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the American Red Cross, 2-1-1, and the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services.

Residents were asked to listen to and follow the directions of all emergency personnel.

Over a three-day period last week, the out-of-control blaze forced evacuations in the back-country communities of Canyon City, Cowboy Ranch, Dog Patch, Forest Gate, Potrero, Star Ranch and Lake Morena Village.

As the flames spread through vast swaths of dry foliage, authorities rescued about 145 animals, including pets and livestock, and cared for hundreds of others brought to shelters by their owners.

All evacuation orders have been lifted since late Thursday.

Five homes and 11 outbuildings were destroyed in the fire. One additional home suffered damage.

The fire also prompted closure of numerous rural roads. Three traffic control points remained in effect Saturday as firefighters restricted access to the burn area. Residents in those areas will be allowed in -- however, the Pacific Crest Trail remained closed to hikers from the southern boundary of Cleveland National Forest to just south of Hauser Canyon.

In the early days of the weeklong fire, three firefighters suffered minor, heat-related injuries.

In addition, the fire caused power outages that at one point affected more than 1,000 homes and businesses in Potrero and the nearby communities of Campo and Dulzura, according to SDG&E.

Utility crews were working to repair downed power lines and replace poles, according to Cal Fire, but the power is back on.