Residents able to return after dozens of acres burn near homes in Santee


SANTEE, Calif. — Crews battled flames on the ground and by air Wednesday afternoon and some residents were forced to leave home after a brush fire broke out near a neighborhood in Santee and grew dozens of acres.

The fire started out in a wildland area just west of the homes on Cuyamaca Street and Chaparral Drive. By about 2:30 p.m. the fire was 25 to 30 acres in size, though “crews (were) making good progress on controlling the fire,” the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said.

A helicopter and airplane dropped water and flame retardant onto the blaze as crews ran hose lines from the residential area out to the fire. Leaping flames could be seen burning through the brush near power lines.

Flames on a hillside near a neighborhood in Santee where a brush fire broke out Wednesday, Dec. 16 2020. (Photo: San Diego Sheriff’s Department)

Some of the homes closest to the fire — located on Princess Joann and Dakota Ranch roads — were evacuated as a precaution. A temporary evacuation point was set up at Santana High School, on Magnolia Avenue in Santee, but neighbors were allowed to return home by 5 p.m.

By that time, firefighters had halted the fire’s progress at just under 40 acres.

Sheriff’s deputies went door-to-door letting neighbors know to evacuate, and also helped Heartland Fire Department keep the area clear of traffic. Cal Fire said it was also providing resources and back-up for the local department.

There was no immediate word on a potential cause of the fire.

Shortly after the flames broke out, a shirtless man could be seen by helicopter walking through the area with a blanket over his head. Mountain bikers could also be seen using a nearby trail. The sheriff’s department did not immediately comment on whether they had spotted or stopped anyone considered suspicious.

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