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Alpine Fire 30 Percent Contained Saturday Morning

Flames from the West Fire burn brush near Alpine, CA, July 6, 2018.

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Above: Flames from the West Fire burn brush near Alpine, CA, July 6, 2018.

Update 2:30 p.m., July 7, 2018

Cal Fire officials at 11:20 a.m. Saturday updated an evacuation order for areas west of South Grade Road, south to Japatul Valley Road, to an evacuation warning, with access for residents only. Identification is required to enter the area.

All other evacuations remained in effect. Evacuations had initially been ordered for Alpine Oaks Estates and a large swath of territory bounded by Tavern Road, Alpine Boulevard, Viejas Creek Trail and Japatul Road.

Original story

Thirty percent containment was reported today for the fire east of Alpine, which has now destroyed 18 structures and damaged eight more.

Firefighters battled extreme heat, but nearly calm winds, early today. At 8 a.m., it was 98 degrees in Alpine, with a forecast high of 99 and worries that winds could gust as high as 20 miles per hour.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared the area a local state of emergency late Friday. Evacuation orders were still in place, CalFire officials said.

The blaze began about 11:15 a.m. Friday on the south side of Interstate 8, at West Willows Road, east of Alpine, according to Cleveland National Forest officials. The wind-stoked flames soon reached a "critical'' rate of spread, Cal Fire reported.

On Friday, television helicopters showed large tile-roofed homes residential trailers and small outbuildings engulfed in fire. Dozens of structures appeared to have been gutted.

Crews from various local agencies attacked the blaze on the ground and aboard water- and retardant-dropping aircraft while braving midday heat measured by the National Weather Service at 108 degrees.

Immediate evacuation orders were issued for Alpine Oaks Estates, and areas south of the intersection of Alpine Boulevard and South Grade Road. The evacuation order was then extended to the large area bounded by Tavern Road, Alpine Boulevard, Viejas Creek Trail and Japatul Road.

The American Red Cross set up an evacuation site at Los Coches Creek Middle School on Dunbar Lane, and a temporary shelter was established in a parking lot at Viejas Casino. The Lakeside Rodeo Grounds on Mapleview Street was providing room for livestock.

Two of the three uphill, eastbound lanes on Interstate 8 were blocked for a time Friday afternoon, but were later reopened.

One crew member suffered minor burn injuries to his face while battling the blaze, and had been expected to remain hospitalized overnight, CalFire reported.

At the height of the blaze, about 3,500 homes and businesses at and around the site of the wildfire were without power, according to San Diego Gas & Electric. Some of those addresses are served by a circuit that the utility decided to deactivate as a precaution, and the rest lost service due to fire-related equipment damage, SDG&E spokesman Wes Jones said.

As of 7 p.m., the utility tweeted 1,100 customers in the Alpine area were without power.

The governor's office announced Friday afternoon the issuance of an emergency proclamation for the San Diego area "due to the effects of the West Fire.''

The gubernatorial decree cleared the way for the state to provide immediate disaster assistance to the county, allows for expedited unemployment benefits for anyone who lost a job due to the blaze and waives fees for replacement of documents -- including birth certificates, marriage licenses and vehicle titles -- lost to the flames.

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