Wind-fanned fire forces evacuations across San Diego County


EL CAJON, Calif. (NewsNation Now) — A brush fire broke out near San Diego late Wednesday, threatening dozens of homes and forcing communities to evacuate.

Firefighters worked through the night to contain the 25-acre fire in San Diego County near El Cajon, which was stoked by high winds and dry conditions. Crews were able to stop the Willow Fire’s spread just before 1:30 a.m., NewsNation affiliate KSWB reported.

According to California’s state firefighting agency, it was at 5% containment.

“This is significant,” Cal Fire Captain Thomas Shoots told KSWB. “Any time these fires kick off, we know the wind conditions out there are gonna make it super challenging for us and our firefighters.”

Shoots said the fire threatened about 200 homes, some of which were damaged.

The San Diego Sheriff’s Department said all evacuations orders have since been lifted, as of Thursday morning.

No injuries were immediately reported, and it remains unclear what sparked the blaze.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of utility customers in another part of Southern California are without power in a preventative measure as Santa Ana winds threaten to spark wildfires.

Red flag warnings of extreme fire danger were issued Thursday through much of the region, and will remain in place into Saturday. The National Weather Service has forecasted low humidity, bone-dry brush and strong winds.

Utilities in the region started cutting power as a wildfire precaution on Wednesday.

Southern California Edison cut power to about 15,000 homes and businesses by late Wednesday night and was considering de-energizing lines serving a total of about 271,000 customers in seven counties throughout the windy period, which could last into Saturday.

It was one of the utility’s largest precautionary blackouts.

San Diego Gas & Electric pulled the plug on about 24,000 customers by Wednesday night with another 73,000 in the crosshairs.

“We recognize losing power is disruptive, and we sincerely thank our customers for their patience and understanding,” the utility said.

The wildfire threats come as much of California plunges deeper into drought.

Virtually all of Northern California is in severe or extreme drought while nearly all of Southern California is abnormally dry or worse.

“Some years there’s some rain that tamps down the fire season. But not yet this year,” said meteorologist Adam Roser with the weather service in San Diego.

No rain is expected for Southern California for at least the next week and a half, he said.

The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate KSWB contributed to this report.

© 1998 - 2021 Nexstar Inc. | All Rights Reserved.