Fierce aerial attack tames fast-moving North County wildfire

SAN DIEGO -- Firefighters prevented a fast-moving brush fire near Ramona from reaching homes or structures Thursday afternoon with an aggressive aerial attack using air tankers and helicopters.

The fire, dubbed the Rangeland Fire, was first reported at San Pasqual Valley Road near Highway 78 shortly after 1 p.m. -- an area near the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in San Pasqual Valley where crews battled another significant brush fire in July. It appeared to have started near a commercial orange grove in the valley and quickly spread uphill on the rugged, brush-covered ridge.

Cal Fire hit the leading edges of the blaze hard from the air with a combination of helicopter water drops and fire retardant dropped from large air tankers, including a giant MD87 jet.

By 2:45 p.m., the air attack had stopped the movement of the fire in the direction of homes and structures. By 4:30 p.m., officials said the fire was 30 percent contained and remained at 150 acres. By 7:30 p.m., the fire had burned 250 acres and was 60 percent contained.

One firefighter suffered a minor injury, according to Cal Fire.

Thursday night, all lanes of westbound state Route 78 remained closed at Weekend Villa Road and all eastbound lanes remained closed at Bandy Canyon Road, according to a tweet from Caltrans San Diego.