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Firefighters Battle Multiple Blazes Near Julian

Crews worked today to contain a spate of brush fires that blackened hundreds of open acres east of Julian.

The Vallecito Lightning Complex wildfires on August 13, 2012.
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Above: The Vallecito Lightning Complex wildfires on August 13, 2012.

The first erupted about 8 p.m. Sunday off Mason Valley Truck Trail, in the Vallecito area, according to Cal Fire. By 8 p.m. Monday it had grown to about 350 acres and was 0 percent contained, said Nick Schuler, a battalion chief with the state agency.

Lightning strikes caused the blaze, dubbed the Vallecito Fire, said Cal Fire spokeswoman Roxanne Provaznik.

More than 600 lightning strikes were reported in San Diego County on the day the fire started spreading, Schuler said.

Early this afternoon, electrical-storm activity sparked two other fires near Scissors Crossing, north of the initial burn area. At 8 p.m. Monday, the Wilson Fire covered 600 acres and was 0 percent contained, and the Stewart Fire covered 50 acres and was 0 percent contained.

Since the sites are not readily accessible to ground crews, only aircraft personnel were battling the flames, Schuler said.

None of the fires was posing any threats to inhabited areas, officials said.

There was one reported injury to a firefighter and the estimated cost to date to suppress the fires is $715,000, Provaznik said.

Less than two hours before the Vallecito Fire began, crews fully contained the so-called Chihuahua Fire, which scorched more than 2,000 acres northwest of Warner Springs since Thursday afternoon.

That blaze -- also sparked by a lightning strike -- prompted evacuations of about 200 ranches and cabins but caused no known structural damage.

Cal Fire estimated the cost of suppressing the Chihuahua Fire at $1.5 million.

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