Firefighters work to contain Pala fire. Photo Credit: OnScene.TV

Updated at 12:08 P.M., Saturday Jun. 4

The Pala fire that started Tuesday afternoon in the far reaches of northern San Diego County has grown to 70 acres and is 35 percent contained, according to fire officials.

The forward rate of spread of the fire was stopped Friday afternoon, according to Cal Fire Capt. Kendal Bortisser.

Pala Temecula Road south of Rancho Heights Road remained closed Saturday morning due to multiple firefighters and fire apparatus working on the roadway. Pala Temecula Road north of Rancho Heights Road is open up to and including Rancho Heights Road, Bortisser said.

Brisk winds and summery warmth combined Friday to re-ignite the smoldering burn area of the wildfire and once again forced people to flee their homes, three days after an initial round of evacuations.

Several small new fires broke out about 3:15 p.m. along the edges of the charred swaths of hilly terrain east of Interstate 15 and about a mile south of the Riverside County line. Cal Fire dispatched ground crews and firefighting aircraft to douse the flames.

Within two hours, about 25 additional acres had been blackened, Bortisser said.

Sheriff’s deputies cleared people out of dozens of homes in the nearby Rancho Heights area as a precaution. The displaced residents were advised to meet at a makeshift evacuation center at Great Oaks High School in Temecula.

By early evening, firefighters had halted the spread of the flames. No injuries were reported. The original blaze began Tuesday afternoon as a house fire in the 38800 block of Pala Temecula Road. The flames quickly spread into adjacent trees and brush and began moving through thick foliage on surrounding rural lands.

Authorities evacuated about 100 residents in the area of Temepa Road as that fire grew. They were allowed to return to their homes early Tuesday evening as crews gained control over the flames.

—City News Service

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