SAN DIEGO — Firefighters continued to get a grip on the destructive Valley Fire in East County, announcing the blaze was 79% contained as of Saturday evening, about one week after the fire first started.
Containment was at 69% Saturday morning. Cal Fire says fire activity was limited in the afternoon as firefighters continued to mop up hot spots and secure the fire perimeter. A total of 679 personnel are assigned to the fire that has destroyed 30 residences and 31 outbuildings, damaged 11 other structures and injured three firefighters.
All evacuation orders were lifted and roads reopened Friday afternoon. It was the first time Dino Zaccaria was able to sleep in his own bed in nearly a week. He evacuated as the Valley Fire came dangerously close to his home off Lawson Valley Road.
“It just kept coming down, coming closer, coming closer,” Zaccaria said. “It could have been Monday or Tuesday when we got confirmation that the house was still here.”
He said a friend of a friend told him his house was still standing.
“I just want to cry, you know. Unfortunate for a lot of other people,” he said.
Firefighters said for each day the Valley Fire stays within its perimeter, the threat to nearby communities will continue to diminish.
“Progress is the word today. We’re seeing really good progress with the numbers up, the containment numbers going up and of course the fact that the fire itself hasn’t burned any additional acres in the last couple of days,” Cal Fire Capt. Isaac Sanchez said.
As residents return to the area to assess the damage and retrieve belongings, Cal Fire is asking everyone to use extreme caution around trees, power poles and other tall objects or structures that may have been weakened by fire.
Non-residents should avoid the area as there may be traffic flow interruptions due to firefighters, law enforcement and utility workers still operating.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has increased patrols in the area to ensure public safety and prevent looting, Cal Fire said. Residents are asked to call the San Diego County Sheriff’s
Department if you notice suspicious people in the area.
County officials encouraged people who have lost their homes or other property to the wildfire to call for assistance at 858-715-2200 or email valleyfirerecovery.@firstname.lastname@example.org.
The county opened an assistance center to help residents affected by the Valley Fire at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Rancho San Diego library branch in El Cajon.
Those who would like to help victims of the fire can make donations to a disaster-relief fund implemented by the San Diego Foundation, which can be found by clicking here.