4S Ranch brush fire sparked by welders

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SAN DIEGO -- A five-acre brush fire that briefly threatened homes in 4S Ranch was accidentally caused by welders, the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District announced today.

The fire that began about 3 p.m. Thursday in a creek bed adjacent to Black Mountain Open Space Park prompted precautionary evacuations of some nearby homes along Palomino Valley Road while crews attacked the flames by ground and air.

Oak Valley Middle School students and staffers were ordered to shelter in place and remain indoors as the flames spread through thick vegetation in undeveloped ravines and wetland areas a short distance away.

Fire Chief Tony Michel said the fire "serves as a reminder that in Southern California, we can have a quick moving fire any time of the year and we should always make sure we maintain defensible space around homes.''

He said the "homes impacted by (the) fire had appropriate defensible space around their property, which aided in our firefighting efforts.''

There were no injuries or structural damage.