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Gate Fire evacuee says wildfires ‘are part of living in Southern California’

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JAMUL, Calif – About 100 residents evacuated due to the Gate Fire stayed at the Red Cross evacuation center overnight at Otay Ranch High School in Chula Vista, many people were living out of their RVs parked in the lot.

They were waiting Sunday for officials to give the "okay" to return to their homes after being evacuated due to the Gate Fire.

Firefighters are still working the Gate Fire which sparked Saturday north of Dulzura and south of Jamul. As of 5:15 p.m., Cal Fire officials said it has scorched 2,056 acres and was 70 percent contained.

Some road closures have been lifted, however evacuation orders and warnings remained in effect.

Gate Fire evacuee and Pio Pico RV Park resident George Curtis says he has everything that’s important to him. His dogs and his camper.

“They’re my family,” Curtis said. “It was pretty scary. There was a lot of ash in the air, the smoke was real thick."

Curtis said he only had minutes to throw everything into his truck before everyone in his campground was forced to evacuate.

“Anywhere in Southern California you’re going to have that threat especially after all of the rain we’ve had. It turns up real green then a month later it’s brown,” Curtis said. "So this is part of living in Southern California. What can I say?”

Heavy, thick brush combined with strong winds did not help conditions Saturday, but Cal Fire Captain Isaac Sanchez said firefighters got a bit of a break overnight.

“Overnight we did see a rise in humidity levels and a drop in temperatures which allowed firefighters a great opportunity to make progress on containment, and those efforts will continue throughout today,” Sanchez said.

The Red Cross and the San Diego Humane Society are helping make sure these displaced residents have what they need, people like Curtis say there’s no place like home.

“This facility has showers. We had brought towels in so people can actually get a shower. And comfort kits and we’re providing meals and shelter and the most important thing is we’re providing them information,” Red Cross shelter manager Mary Richardson said.

“All we can do is wait and hope to get back in in the next day or two,” Curtis said.

Evacuees of the Pio Pico Campground are being escorted back to their homes to pick up medications and pets. They will not be allowed to return home until their water system is restored. That is expected to happen in a few days.