Brush fire scorches 255 acres near Warner Springs

WARNER SPRINGS, Calif. – A brush fire in the rugged northeastern reaches of San Diego County has scorched 255 acres in about 24 hours and was 40 percent contained, authorities said Sunday.

The blaze north of Warner Springs, reported at 3:08 p.m. Saturday, charred more than 100 acres within the first two hours as it spread at a moderate to rapid rate, Cal Fire San Diego Capt. Kendal Bortisser said.

But by Saturday evening its rate of spread had slowed significantly and firefighters had it 10 percent contained, with that number creeping up to 20 percent containment by 8 a.m. Sunday morning and 40 percent at 4:30 p.m.

The blaze, dubbed the “Lost Fire,” is burning in a remote, rural area near state Route 79 and Lost Valley Road about four miles northeast of Warner Springs.

Residents of nearby Chihuahua Valley were placed under an evacuation warning Saturday night. Several small roads in the area ere closed, including Chihuahua Valley Road at Lost Valley Road, according to a tweet from the San Diego County Department of Public Works.

More than 400 firefighters were assigned to battle the blaze, Bortisser said.

“Multiple firefighters are on the front lines, and continue to encounter steep terrain, access problems and high temperatures,” Bortisser said at 12:30 p.m. Sunday. “A strong attack on the fire is being made from the air and ground.”

A shelter was opened Saturday night in Ramona after the San Diego sheriff’s department issued its evacuation warning. That warning meant evacuations weren’t mandatory, but residents were asked to prepare in case of a mandatory evacuation order. Its unclear if anyone voluntarily evacuated, but a shelter was opened at Ramona High School at 1401 Hanson Lane.

No structures were threatened in the rural, hilly area dominated by scattered brush. Soon after receiving the first report Saturday, Cal Fire sent a full wildland response team to handle the blaze, including at least four air tankers and several helicopters. U.S. Forest Service firefighters from Cleveland National Forest were also battling the flames.