Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Authorities have issued a mandatory evacuation order for residents in the Ranchita community as hundreds of firefighters continue to work by ground and air to contain four lightning-sparked East County blazes that have blackened thousands of open acres.
By late morning, the Wilson, Stewart, Cooper and Vallecito fires had scorched a total of more than 2,350 acres since erupting Sunday and Monday, according to Cal Fire. The latter was burning southeast of Julian, while the others were all located northeast of the historic former mining town.
In the mid-afternoon, the largest of blazes -- the Wilson Fire -- was moving to the north through Grapevine Canyon toward Ranchita, prompting sheriff's officials to begin advising residents of the community southwest of Borrego Springs to prepare to evacuate on short notice.
At about 4:30 p.m., authorities told nearly 400 Ranchita residents that an evacuation was mandatory.
The American Red Cross has set up a temporary evacuation point at Warner Springs High School (30951 California 79, Warner Springs, CA 92086).
At about 2 p.m., the following message was sent out via "reverse 911" to Ranchita residents:
The blazes, cumulatively called the Vallecito Lightning Complex, had caused no structural damage by 3 p.m., according to Mike Mohler, a fire captain with the state agency.
One firefighter suffered heat exhaustion Monday while battling the flames.
All of the blazes were ignited by electrical storms, Cal Fire reported.