SAN DIEGO — A brush fire broke out Wednesday afternoon in the Barrett Junction area of rural East County, prompting more than 1,500 residents to evacuate their homes and shutting down roads in the area.
The fire is burning near state Route 94 and Barrett Lake Road, southeast of Dulzura. As of Friday evening, the fire, which officials dubbed the Border 32 Fire, had burned 4,438 acres and was 65% contained, Cal Fire San Diego said. The fire had destroyed three homes, six outbuildings, sheds and barns, one commercial structure and three RVs.
A limited repopulation order for residents that were evacuated was issued Thursday evening by first responders, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department stated in a release.
Starting at 6:30 p.m., residents in the following areas will be allowed to return to their homes:
- West of Cochera Via Drive
- East of Potrero Valley Road
Evacuations were initially ordered for the Barrett Lake Road and Coyote Holler Road areas, and were later expanded to include the shaded areas below:
Mountain Empire High School at 3305 Buckman Springs Road remained open for evacuees and their pets Thursday.
The Tecate Port of Entry will remain closed Thursday and not reopen Friday at the usual 6 a.m. time due to the fire, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said.
“CBP continues to work with fire officials to wait for conditions for a safe re-opening,” CBP tweeted. “Travelers north & south can use Otay Mesa & San Ysidro to cross.”
The following roads also remained closed Thursday as firefighters worked to contain the blaze:
- State Route 94 at Forest Gate Road (open to residents only)
- State Route 94 at Potrero Valley Road
- Round Potrero Valley Road at Potrero Valley Road
- Eastbound 94 at Otay Lakes Road (open to residents only)
- Eastbound 94 at Barrett Lake Road
Authorities say those returning to Potrero must enter from eastbound SR-94 while travelers going to Dulzura must enter from westbound SR-94.
Schools in the Mountain Empire Unified and Jamul-Dulzura Union school districts were closed Thursday and will be again Friday.
Just after 10 p.m. Wednesday, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department announced that 400 customers in the Dulzura, Potrero, and Campo areas had lost power due to the electrical system being damaged by the fire. The power is estimated to be restored at 6 p.m. Thursday, according to SDG&E’s outage map.
The hot weather was expected to continue to be a challenge for the 300 firefighters expected to work the fire Thursday, Cal Fire San Diego said in a Twitter update.
Check back for updates on this developing story.