Valley Fire Remains At 17,665 Acres, 87% Contained
Crews strove Tuesday to get full lines of control around the smoldering remnants of the Valley Fire, which blackened thousands of acres in rural eastern San Diego County last week, leveling dozens of homes and forcing widespread evacuations.
As of late Monday morning, firefighters had the 17,665-acre burn area southeast of Alpine 87% contained, according to Cal Fire.
County officials announced Monday morning they were sending damage- assessment teams to the communities ravaged by the blaze to document the property losses it caused while raging out of control for days.
The blaze erupted for unknown reasons early on the afternoon of Sept. 5 off Spirit Trail and Carveacre Road in Japatul Valley, spreading rapidly through tinder-dry vegetation amid sweltering heat and high winds.
The conflagration ultimately destroyed 30 residences and 31 outbuildings, damaged 11 other structures and left three firefighters injured. At one point during the height of the fire emergency, nearly 3,400 East County customers were without power.
By Thursday, firefighters had the spread of the flames largely halted, and authorities were allowing some evacuated residents back into their neighborhoods.
On Friday, Cal Fire announced that all evacuation mandates and road closures necessitated by the blaze had been lifted. On Saturday morning, the county announced the reopening of campgrounds in Lake Morena and Potrero that had been closed during the evacuations.
Cleveland National Forest, however, remains closed to the public until further notice "to protect natural resources and provide for the safety of the public and firefighters," Cal Fire advised.
The state agency cautioned those returning to the fire-ravaged area to "use extreme caution around trees, power poles and other tall objects or structures that may have been weakened" by the blaze.
The San Diego County Sheriff's Department, for its part, was increasing its patrols in the area to ensure public safety and prevent looting.
Due to the fire, Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency for San Diego, a move intended to free up federal relief funds.
County officials encouraged people who have lost their homes or other property to the wildfire to call for assistance at 858-715-2200 or email valleyfirerecovery.@firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additionally, a county assistance center for victims of the blaze will be in operation at Rancho San Diego Library, 11555 Via Rancho San Diego, on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Mondays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. until further notice.
Those who would like to help victims of the fire can make donations to a disaster-relief fund created by the San Diego Foundation, which can be accessed online at sdcountyrecovery.com.