Updated: 8:03 p.m. July 3, 2014
A fast-moving wildfire tore through mountainous terrain in eastern San Diego County Thursday, destroying two homes, blackening about 150 acres and forcing evacuations while moving toward the landmark former mining town of Julian.
Cal Fire lifted evacuations effective 8 p.m. as crews gained the upper hand.
The blaze erupted for unknown reasons shortly after 10:30 a.m. off State Route 78 in the rural Banner area, authorities reported.
The flames spread rapidly to the west, leveling two residences and threatening at least 200 others, Cal Fire Capt. Kendal Bortisser said. An outbuilding also was destroyed, he said.
As firefighters battled the blaze on the ground and aboard air tankers and water-dropping helicopters, sheriff’s deputies cleared residents out of Kentwood-in-the-Pines and Whispering Pines.
A temporary shelter for the displaced was set up at Jess Martin County Park on State Route 79. In the late afternoon, the site was switched to Julian High School.
The California Highway Patrol shut down SR-78 between Wynola and San Felipe Road in the Scissors Crossing area as a public-safety measure.
By 2:30 p.m., firefighters were making good progress in halting the spread of the blaze. Two hours later, the smoldering burn area was roughly 15 percent contained, Bortisser said.
Due to safety concerns related to road closures prompted by the fire, the annual Julian Fourth of July Parade was canceled, the California Highway Patrol announced in the early evening.
— City News Service
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