Lake Morena Village evacuated due to Border Fire threat

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SAN DIEGO - Deputies are evacuating the Lake Morena Village area, northwest of Campo, due to potential threats from the 6,020-acre Border Fire, according to sheriff's officials Tuesday evening.

The area of the evacuation order is within the following boundaries; Pacific Crest Trail to the south, Buckman Springs Road to the east from Lake Morena Dr. to Morena Valley Road, Moreno Stokes Valley Road (Corral Canyon) at Sky Ranch (Sky Valley Road) to the west and Moreno Stokes Valley Road (Corral Canyon) at Buckman Springs Road  to the east.

No new structural damage has been reported.

Nearly 50 deputies are helping with security patrols and traffic control in evacuated and fire areas, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

Firefighters labored Tuesday to subdue the wildfire that has forced widespread evacuations while blackening vast swaths of mostly open land in the far southern reaches of San Diego County.

As of evening, the burn zone of the so-called Border Fire near Potrero was holding at roughly 6,020 acres and remained about 10 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.

"Water, cat food. Just load up the cars and get ready to go when they tell us to evacuate," said Campo Hills resident Ivan Vargas. "Packed and waiting for the fire to go somewhere else."

The blaze, which erupted late Sunday morning near state Route 94 and SR- 188, has destroyed four outbuildings and left three firefighters with minor heat-related ailments, said Kendal Bortisser, a fire captain with the state agency.

Authorities cleared residents and ranchers out of nearby Potrero as the flames quickly spread north of Tecate Junction over rugged terrain covered by heavy chaparral and other dry vegetation. On Monday, heavy new flare-ups prompted officials to expand the evacuation order to include the communities of Canyon City, Cowboy Ranch, Dog Patch, Forest Gate and Star Ranch.

Potrero resident Victor Leon has been out of his home for two days. He checked on it Tuesday and is happy it’s still standing, but says with a wildfire like this, you just never know.

“This is the second time I’ve had to evacuate,” Leon said. "Just wait it out. That’s all I can do."

Displaced residents in need of a place to wait out the fire were advised to take refuge in a makeshift shelter at Los Coches Creek Middle School on Dunbar Lane in Alpine. Those with livestock were given the option of taking their animals to Circle T Ranch on Viejas Grade Road in Descanso or to a Border Patrol station on Ribbonwood Road in Boulevard.

State Route 94 was blocked off from state SR-188 to Mountain Empire RV Park until further notice. Due to the closure, Metropolitan Transit System officials modified Route 894 to only service the area between El Cajon and Tecate.

The blaze also caused power outages that at one point affected more than 1,000 homes and businesses in Potrero and the nearby communities of Campo and Dulzura, according to San Diego Gas & Electric.

As of late Tuesday morning, about 275 addresses remained without power, SDG&E reported. Service was expected to be restored to all the affected areas by midday Wednesday.

One-thousand, five-hundred and fifty firefighters were battling the blaze early Tuesday evening on the ground and aboard air tankers and water-dropping helicopters, according to Cal Fire. Temperatures on the fire lines were in the 90s, as much as 10 degrees cooler than they had been over the previous two days.

Humidity levels were somewhat higher and the winds had weakened, making conditions a bit less conducive to rapid fire spread, according to Bortisser.

There have been no official reports of homes lost to the conflagration.

Due to the fire, Mountain Empire Schools will be closed for the remainder of the week, the district announced on its website Tuesday.

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