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Southern Fire Fully Contained As California Braces For Another Active Wildfire Season

Plants burn from the Southern Fire in the Shelter Valley area east of Julian, May 1, 2021.
Plants burn from the Southern Fire in the Shelter Valley area east of Julian, May 1, 2021.
People who were evacuated are back in their homes and firefighters continue to make good progress in handling the Southern Fire in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. But when the fire started on Saturday, it took off with frightening speed, doubling in size overnight.

Firefighters have finished battleing a brush fire east of Julian that broke out over the weekend.

The Southern Fire was first reported about 5:15 p.m. Saturday off Great Southern Overland Stage Route, or County Route S2, roughly 14 miles southeast of Julian.


The Southern Fire in the Shelter Valley area had burned more than 5,366 acres and is now fully contained,

Three homes and two outbuildings were destroyed and roughly 500 people were evacuated from the Butterfield Manufactured Home and Rv Community to Agua Caliente Campgrounds, according to Cal Fire San Diego Capt. Frank LoCoco.

“This fire, we actually had the benefit of having the winds coming out of the west, which pushed the fire east towards mostly unpopulated areas, with the exception of the Butterfield Ranch Campground and a few surrounding houses,” LoCoco said.

Evacuation orders were lifted around 12:15 p.m. Monday.

Evacuations Lifted In Southern Fire, Blaze 25% Contained

The blaze in San Diego's East County coincides with California's Wildfire Preparedness Week.

While fire season in California now is considered to be year-round, a fire of this size is unusual this early in the calendar year, according to the National Weather Service’s Alex Tardy.

He said conditions this year in Southern California are even drier than last year’s record-breaking fire season that burned more than 4 million acres of land.

“The dead fuel moisture right now is at a record low. So it's not just low, it's at record low. So you could argue that in Southern California we’re worse off than last year at this time,” Tardy said. “That means that there’s a higher potential of having explosive and aggressive, fast-moving fires. It doesn't guarantee there'll be fires, it’s not a 1 to 1 correlation, but the threat is higher than last year.”

Live Updates: Southern Fire 90% Contained, 3 Homes Lost

Several animals had be to rescued over the weekend, including rabbits, goats, a donkey, horses and chickens.

LoCoco is optimistic that the Southern Fire will be further contained in the coming days due to favorable conditions, but he is aware of the increased wildfire risk for 2021.

“One of the most important things is to have a plan for you and your family, your pets. Safety kits, valuables or at least a plan to remove whatever you deem is the most valuable so that when or if it's time to go and you're given an evacuation order, you can just go and not hesitate,” LoCoco said.

The American Red Cross helped 70 people with meals and emergency lodging in hotel rooms during the evacuation.

Editor's Note: We have updated the story to reflect the fire impacting the Shelter Valley area, which includes residents of Mason Valley.

Southern Fire 55% Contained As California Heads Toward Another Active Wildfire Season
Listen to this story by Jacob Aere.

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