50-acre fire spreads from Palomar College arboretum, threatens neighborhood

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SAN MARCOS, Calif. — A brush fire sparked in the arboretum of Palomar College in San Marcos Thursday and burned at least 50 acres, briefly threatening the surrounding neighborhood before crews got a handle on the flames.

The community college’s main campus is located off West Mission Road near Comet Circle, and a plume of smoke rising from the area could be seen across North County. According to the college, the fire sparked in its arboretum around 12:30 p.m. and facilities staff immediately called 911.

San Marcos Fire Department led an “aggressive air and ground attack” with help from Cal Fire San Diego, San Diego Fire-Rescue and several other local agencies. By 3 p.m., authorities said that the blaze had burned about 50 acres but crews had stopped the fire from spreading any further.

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Earlier, SMFD had announced a “continued structure threat” from the flames and warned residents east of N. Las Posas Road, west of N. Twin Oaks Valley Road, north of W. Mission Road and south of W. Borden Road that they may have to evacuate.

“This is just a warning,” officials emphasized, and no formal evacuation order was ever issued, though San Diego County Emergency Services warned vulnerable populations to preemptively leave the area.

Palomar College said around 2:30 p.m. that the blaze was no longer “a current threat to the campus.” A short time later, officials announced that they had stopped the fire’s spread and the evacuation warning was lifted.

The National Weather Service said humidity was about 20% in the area and temperatures would reach the high 80s, contributing to “elevated fire weather conditions” that would continue across the region throughout the day. A Red Flag Warning is in effect for parts of Southern California through Friday night.

Officials did not immediately release details about what may have caused the fire. Crews were expected to stay in the area into the evening to put out remaining hot spots.

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