Brush fire at Lake Murray threatens hilltop homes

SAN DIEGO -- A brush fire on the southwest shore of Lake Murray threatened several expensive hilltop homes in Del Cerro Tuesday afternoon.

The fire was reported at around 4:15 p.m. near the western end of the Lake Murray dam. It spread up the hillside toward several large homes on Elaine Way.

"I rushed out of the house and immediately saw flames coming up," said Dennis Vanier, homeowner.

Vanier lives at the top of the hill, he watched as the flames approached dangerously close to his home.

"Then it quickly started moving in a northerly way all across the way here," said Vanier.  "It came within I would agree about 200 yards."

A San Diego Fire-Rescue Department crews canvassed the hillside, dousing the flames pushed by winds.

"Any time of wind is going to enhance fire behavior and make it more difficult for us," said Ted Moran, Battalion Chief.

Two helicopters made repeated water drops on the fire, dipping into the nearby reservoir to fill up.

"It really worked to our advantage because, they had quick turn around time.  They did anywhere between 5 to 10 drops on the fire and really helped out," said Moran.

The fire blackened around an acre of hillside. As of 5 p.m., fire crews on the ground were assisting the helicopter put out hot spots.

"I was worried something similar was happening," said Vanier.

To Vanier, the sight was all too familiar.

"We just experienced the smoke and debris from the fire two weeks ago," said Vanier.  "Thankfully, they were able to get the fire pretty much contained."

Firefighters said the fire burned a total of 1 acre.  The cause remains undetermined.