Valley Fire now 87% contained as damage assessments get underway


SAN DIEGO — Damage assessments were underway Monday in Lawson Valley, an area that saw its share of devastation from the Valley Fire.

“Someone’s entire life right here got wiped out by fire,” Deputy Fire Marshal David Sibbet said.

As of Monday, firefighters had the 17,665-acre burn area southeast of Alpine 87% contained, according to Cal Fire.

The county shared video of him surveying several properties where homes and outbuildings were destroyed. With buildings leveled, he said the assessments can be a challenge.

“On large rural properties where outbuildings are common, it takes a long time to decipher the lay of the land and to understand what you’re looking at,” Sibbet said.

He said the assessments are key for families to start the rebuilding process. Property owners need accurate information to send to their insurance company and other agencies.

“As part of the county damage assessment team, it’s our job to get people back on their feet as soon as possible,” Sibbet said.

The blaze erupted for unknown reasons early on the afternoon of Sept. 5 off Spirit Trail and Carveacre Road in Japatul Valley, spreading rapidly through tinder-dry vegetation amid sweltering heat and high winds.

The conflagration ultimately destroyed 30 residences and 31 outbuildings, damaged 11 other structures and left three firefighters injured. At one point during the height of the fire emergency, nearly 3,400 East County customers were without power.

By Thursday, firefighters had the spread of the flames largely halted, and authorities were allowing some evacuated residents back into their neighborhoods.

On Friday, Cal Fire announced that all evacuation mandates and road closures necessitated by the blaze had been lifted. On Saturday morning, the county announced the reopening of campgrounds in Lake Morena and Potrero that had been closed during the evacuations.

Cleveland National Forest, however, remains closed to the public until further notice “to protect natural resources and provide for the safety of the public and firefighters,” Cal Fire advised.

The county also shared resources for families:

Recovery Assistance Hotline and Email
Unincorporated County residents affected by the wildfires may call the Recovery Assistance Hotline (858) 715-2200 or email

Both will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Messages and emails received after hours will be returned on the next business day.

Donation Information
The best way to help those impacted by the Valley fire is a financial donation to a trusted local organization that can help meet the needs of survivors when they need it. Donations of goods such as clothing and household items can sometimes be difficult to distribute as someone who just lost their home may not have a place to keep donated items. Learn more about donations after a disaster.

Public Health and Hazardous Waste
Wildfire Asbestos Advisory (English/Spanish)
Fire Smoke Advisory for the Valley Fire

Rebuilding and Permit Processing in the Unincorporated County
Agricultural Damage Assessment

Debris Assistance
Solid Waste Facility Map (English/ Spanish)

Not finding what you need?
2-1-1 is a free source of information and referrals that connects you to services.  You can call 2-1-1, 858-300-1211, or 800-227-0997, where a trained specialist will provide confidential assistance, or you can search for what you need via

The Red Guide to Recovery
The Red Guide to Recovery: A Resource Handbook for Disaster Survivors is a comprehensive, easy-to-read post incidentrecovery tool that walks disaster survivors step-by-step through the recovery process.  Disaster survivors are often overwhelmed by stress and uncertainty after a loss caused by a natural or manmade disaster, and the handbook addresses such stress and uncertainty by providing the information and tools survivors need to cope with a disaster. Learn more

View the Condensed Red Guide to Recovery for San Diego County
Available in both English and Spanish

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