SAN DIEGO – A brush fire that prompted evacuations Wednesday near state Route 78 in a remote part of eastern San Diego County was halted, fire officials said.
The spread of the fire, dubbed the Casner Fire, was stopped around 4:34 p.m. at 180 acres by fire crews. As of Thursday evening, the blaze remained at the same acreage and was 70% contained, up from 35% in the most recent update from Cal Fire San Diego.
“There was no spread overnight, and firefighters made good progress mopping up and building containment line,” Cal Fire wrote in a tweet. “Firefighting resources remain assigned and will continue working throughout the day.”
One firefighter suffered a heat-related injury while battling the fire Wednesday, but is expected to be OK, Cal Fire Capt. Thomas Shoots said Wednesday. The firefighter was taken to an area hospital for an evaluation.
The blaze was reported shortly after 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, burning closest to SR-78 and Casner Road in Ramona. Within an hour, it exploded to about 40 acres with a moderate spread rate while burning grass in the area.
Three hours after it broke out, the fire had grown to 180 acres but the forward rate was stopped.
Homes on Rancho Ballena Road and those in nearby areas were being evacuated while the fire was spreading, authorities said. Around 4:45 p.m., all evacuees were cleared to return home. However, the sheriff’s department warned that there’s still a potential threat of flare-ups.
“You should be prepared to leave quickly if advised to do so. Fire crews will be working through the night,” the sheriff’s department tweeted.
Eastbound SR-78, east of Ramona, was closed for about two hours at Rancho Santa Teresa due to the fire but all lanes have since reopened, California Department of Transportation tweeted at 4:07 p.m.
Shoots said the fire was caused by someone using equipment around their lawn.
“Really these fires this time of year take off pretty quickly, so we’re lucky to have a lot of ground and air resources up in and around Ramona, got a lot of folks out here very quickly,” Shoots said.
Frank Bumpus lives in one of the 20 homes evacuated in Wednesday’s fire, receiving a call that nobody ever wants to get.
“Neighbor called me, said I should get home as quick as possible,” Bumpus said. “I thought the worst not knowing, so I hustled here as quickly as possible and did what I could.”
Bumpus said he is prepared for a day like this and puts fire crews’ warnings into action.
“Keep the brush away from the house and other structures,” Bumpus said.
No buildings were damaged in the blaze, but it’s a moment that brought back unwelcomed memories for some residents.
“The Witch Fire in 2007, we are right in the footprint of it here,” Shoots said. “These folks remember we’re not going to have a Witch Fire on a day like today in July, but we can still have a fire that’s incredibly devastating to these communities and that’s the last thing we want.”
Shoots said it is essential to learn from a fast-moving fire and make sure your home has a plan in place.
FOX 5’s Zara Barker contributed to this story.