Help California wildfire victims

Brush fire burns close to homes near Cowles Mountain

SAN DIEGO - A brush fire blackened about 10 acres Monday in an open- space preserve near Cowles Mountain, spreading toward some homes but causing no reported structural damage or injuries.

The blaze broke out shortly before 4:30 p.m. off Big Rock Road and Shantung Drive in Santee, in the eastern reaches of Mission Trails Regional Park, according to sheriff's officials and the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. It's not yet known what sparked the fire.

Rebecca Daniels lives in the area and told FOX 5 she could feel the intensity of the fire from her home across the valley.

“It was smoking in this whole valley here,” said Daniels. “It was very smoke-filled, very hot, it burned your legs and face."

The fire also surrounded the ranger’s home on park grounds. 

Fire crews fought the flames from the air and ground.  As helicopters made aerial drops, hand crews were sent in to cut a line of defense.

Randy Chenowith captured much of the action on his camera from inside the park.

“I walked up the trail before the police stopped everybody from going up there,” said Chenowith. “One time they stopped and looked at me and I thought they were going to tell me to get off the hill."

Some families chose to leave, but others had no choice.  Daniels was told to evacuate twice.

“We packed up our things and put it in the car,” she said.  “I was very scared.  My children grew up here, my grandchildren, and my great-grandchildren, they come here to play.”

Daniels anxiously watched as firefighters defended her neighborhood and to her relief, it was a hard-fought battle that was won.

“It’s my home, I’ve been here 35 years, I want to leave it to my kids,” said Daniels.  “I’m very proud of them, thank you.”

Crews were able to bring the fire under control within about 45 minutes.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.