A Cal Fire firefighter battles the blaze overnight on Monday. Courtesy OnScene.tV
A Cal Fire firefighter battles the blaze overnight on Monday. Courtesy OnScene.tV

Firefighters continued battling a wildfire Monday night that has destroyed outbuildings, caused power outages, injured several firefighters and prompted widespread evacuations while blackening some 7,500 acres in the far southern reaches of San Diego County.

The blaze, dubbed the Border Fire, erupted for unknown reasons late Sunday morning in the vicinity of state Routes 94 and 188 amid a late-spring heat wave. Authorities cleared residents and ranchers out of nearby Potrero as the fire spread north of Tecate Junction.

As of early this evening, the burn zone was only about 5 percent contained, hours after outbreaks of “extreme fire behavior” prompted officials to expand the evacuation order to include the communities of Canyon City, Cowboy Ranch, Dog Patch, Forest Gate and Star Ranch, according to Cal Fire.

Smoke billows from the fire along the border north of Tecate. Courtesy UCSD HPWREN camera network

There were no reports of homes destroyed by the blaze, though at least four sheds were leveled, authorities said.

Displaced residents in need of a place to wait out the fire were advised to take refuge in a makeshift shelter at Los Coches Creek Middle School on Dunbar Lane in Alpine. Those with large animals were given the option of taking them to Circle T Ranch on Viejas Grade Road in Descanso or to a Border Patrol station on Ribbonwood Road in Boulevard.

State Route 94 was blocked off from state Route 188 to Mountain Empire RV Park. Due to the closure, Metropolitan Transit System officials modified Route 894 to only service the area between El Cajon and Tecate.

The blaze also caused power outages that at one point impacted more than 1,000 homes and businesses in Potrero and the nearby communities of Campo and Dulzura, according to San Diego Gas & Electric. Service was expected to be restored to all the affected areas by midday Wednesday, SDG&E reported.

Classes at Mountain Empire Unified School District campuses were suspended due to the blaze, MEUSD officials said.

Three crew members working to control the blaze have suffered minor heat- related ailments, according to Cal Fire.

— City News Service

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.