Mercado Fire contained, 2 questioned

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RANCHO SAN DIEGO, Calif. – A Friday late-afternoon brush fire charred about 10 acres in a hilly open area just west of Cuyamaca College, moving toward homes and a San Diego Gas & Electric substation but causing no reported structural damage or injuries.

The blaze, dubbed the Mercado Fire, erupted for unknown reasons shortly after 3:30 p.m. off state Route 94, near Via Mercado in Rancho San Diego. Crews from several East County agencies battled the flames on the ground and aboard firefighting helicopters and tanker planes.

Deputies advised some residents in houses along Del Rio Road, Via Linda Vista and Via Timoteo to leave the neighborhood as a precaution and to gather at nearby Monte Vista High School until cleared to return home until about 7:30 p.m., when crews had the smoldering burn area fully contained, sheriff's Sgt. Patrick McEvoy said.

“During the course of this incident, a 29-year-old female and 54-year- old male were detained by sheriff's deputies as they were observed attempting to leave the area of a known transient encampment in the burn area,'' McEvoy said.

“The sheriff's Bomb/Arson Unit responded to the scene to assume the investigation. At this time, the investigation is ongoing and no charges have been filed.''

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