Brush fire threatens hillside homes in Kensington, Talmadge

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SAN DIEGO -- Firefighters got the upper hand Tuesday afternoon on a brush fire that threatened dozens of home along a canyon rim in San Diego's Kensington and Talmadge neighborhoods.

The flames raced up the hillsides on both sides of Fairmount Avenue, but firefighters hit the blaze with dozens of engine crews and water-dropping helicopters. As a result of the all-out assault, crews prevented damage to any homes and no one was injured. By 3:15 p.m., they had stopped the forward progress of the flames and lifted all evacuations. By 7 p.m., the fire was 30 percent contained. Crews were expected to continue working on the fire throughout the night.

The fire was reported at 1:22 p.m. Tuesday. The blaze burned up hillsides on both sides of the 4800 block of Fairmont Avenue. Police closed Fairmount Avenue in both directions between Interstate 8 and El Cajon Boulevard to facilitate access for firefighters. Aldine Drive was closed from Winona to Van Dyke. Montezuma was closed from Collwood to Fairmount, and 44th Street was closed near Monroe.

San Diego police ordered mandatory evacuations along 4600 and 4700 blocks of Norma Drive, Constance Drive and Natalie Drive. Police also evacuated Lorraine Drive and Lucille Drive. The Hoover High School football field was designated as a temporary evacuation point, police said.

Neighbors were given minutes to grab their belongings and leave.

"I grabbed my dog," one evacuee told FOX 5. "My wife was out of town and the rest is just stuff."

Some residents took time to check on their neighbors. Others grabbed garden hoses to douse their backyards.

"Everybody says you should pack a bag for emergencies, but you really should do it," evacuee Stacey Bradford Sale told FOX 5.

Ground crews were assisted by several water-dropping helicopters as they worked to stop the fire from spreading. As of 2:30 p.m., the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department reported that crews had stopped the spread of the fire on the south side of the blaze. By 3:15 p.m., crews had stopped the fire from spreading and were concentrating on mopping up hot spots.

Access to Fairmount Avenue in the area was expected to be blocked into the evening hours, police said.

By 8:30 p.m. the street was reopen although two fire rigs and crews remained on scene to make sure the fire did not flare up overnight.

No homes or structures were damaged, and no one was injured, a fire spokeswoman said.

SDG&E cut power to about 4,000 customers in the area as a precaution, utility officials said. By 5:30 p.m., power had been restored to all impacted customers, according to the utility.

There is no word yet on what caused the fire.

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