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East County ‘Willow Fire’ Slows Significantly

Map of Willow Fire

View Willow Fire in a larger map

Approximate location of the Willow Fire on May 22, 2009

— A wildfire of unknown origin blackened scores of hilly acres southeast of El Cajon today, prompting evacuations in a nearby residential neighborhood as crews fought the flames from the ground and air.

The blaze began spreading through light brush and dry native grasses behind a U.S. Fish and Game Department shooting range off Willow Glen Drive in the Dehesa area shortly before 1 p.m., according to Cal Fire.

As the flames moved across rugged slopes near Singing Hills County Club, sheriff's deputies evacuated homes along Vista Sierra Drive, said Roxanne Provaznik, a spokeswoman for the state agency.

A resident suffered a minor burn injury and a firefighter was overcome with heat while battling the blaze, which grew to more than 60 acres within an hour, Provaznik said.

Ground crews from several area agencies worked to corral the blaze with help from air tankers and water-dropping helicopters. Westerly winds in the area were moderate and not a serious factor in the growth of the fire, according to Provaznik.

Within two hours, crews had gotten swaths of fire retardant and numerous water drops across the most active fronts of the blaze and had reduced much of the burn area to smoldering hot spots.

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