Fire investigators confirmed Monday that two children started a blaze that blackened dozens of brushy open acres and forced the evacuation of scores of homes in Del Cerro over the weekend.
Firefighters were still working Monday afternoon to completely extinguish the smoldering remnants of the vegetation fire. No injuries or structural damage were reported, but the flames at one point burned to within 10 feet of I-8 near San Diego State University.
Two 12-year-olds playing with a cigarette lighter sparked the blaze just north of Interstate 8, between College Avenue and Waring Road, about 4 p.m. Sunday, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.
The flames for a time threatened roughly 80 homes in the area of Adobe Falls Road, SDFRD spokeswoman Monica Munoz said. Police cleared residents out of those houses as firefighters attacked the flames by ground and aboard air-tanker helicopters.
The California Highway Patrol shut down all westbound traffic on the freeway at state Route 125 until about 10 p.m.
The task of quelling the blaze continued after dark. Overnight, firefighters had to dump some 500 gallons of water on a stubbornly burning palm tree stump, and another crew reported seeing glowing embers near two homes, Munoz said.
The 38-acre burn area of the blaze, dubbed Adobe Fire, was 95 percent surrounded as of late Monday afternoon, with full containment expected this evening, according to fire department officials.
It was unclear if the boy and girl who started the fire will face any criminal liability. Potential punishments for “juvenile-fire-starter cases are each evaluated on a case-by-case basis,” according to Munoz.
“Our investigation continues, and when the (San Diego Metro Arson Strike Team) investigators are ready, they will consult with the district attorney, and a determination will be made (regarding) the next steps,” the spokeswoman said.
The children’s names were not released.
–City News Service
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