Firefighters extinguish large Otay Mesa grassfire

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OTAY MESA — Firefighters have extinguished a large grass fire in Otay Mesa.

Fueled by the wind, the fire spread quickly Friday afternoon. Cal Fire officials said it scorched more than 120 acres near Alta and Otay Mesa roads, east of Brown Field airport and about a mile north of the U.S. – Mexico Border.

“This is a time that is very critical for firefighting,” said Andy Menshek, Cal Fire Batallion Chief. “Because at one point we’re working a fire that actually moves from east to west with a Santa Ana wind and then it changes. That’s what happened today with a big dry air mass that was sitting off on the ocean that’s been pushed out there by the offshore winds and today during that transition we had a fire start.”

Firefighters battled the flames by land and by air.

AT one point the fire was heading towards a salvage yard and a large storage facility for trucks and RV’s. Crews were able to contain the flames and keep both structures from being impacted. Menshek also said a home was evacuated, but just for precautionary reasons.

Menshek said this is the most significant fire to impact San Diego County during this Santa Ana period, but he said firefighters are keeping it in perspective.

“Compared to our partners in our communities to the north,” said Menshek. “That are experiencing extremely damaging, devastating fire up in the Ventura area. This has been our largest, but we’ve been very fortunate not to have any structure loss.”

By early evening the fire was contained and crews were working to extinguish hot spots. While the cause is still under investigation, officials are urging residents to be extremely cautious.

“Under red flag conditions you have to be very cognizant, very careful,” said Menshek. “About using any type of object such as weed eaters, motorized or mechanized equipment or power equipment with metal blades because that can lead to some fires. We’ve had a couple of those over the last day.”

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