Fire prompts evacuations, road closures near Potrero
Union Tribune (2007-10-21) Mark Arner
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By Mark Arner
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
2:45 p.m. October 21, 2007
POTRERO – A brush fire that began about 9:30 a.m. Sunday in a rugged,
mountainous area 70 miles east of San Diego spread to more than 100 acres in two
hours and was heading west fueled by 35 mph Santa Ana winds. It also prompted
evacuations of more than 100 homes near Potrero.
More than 300 firefighters were fighting the fire from the land and air, with
five air tanker planes, five helicopters and 45 engines, said Roxanne
Provaznik, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire
Protection – Cal Fire.
Four firefighters were injured when their engine was engulfed by flames from
the Harris Fire, Cal Fire officials reported just before 2 p.m. The location
and time of the incident was not immediately available. Officials said the
victims were being flown to the UCSD burn center in Hillcrest.
The incident may be related to a report about 1 p.m. by the California
Highway Patrol that they had lost radio contact with one fire crew.
A second brush fire was reported shortly after 12:30 p.m. in Witch Creek, a
rural community several miles west of Santa Ysabel on state Route 78, Cal Fire
officials said. The blaze had spread to more than 100 acres on both sides of
Route 78 by 1:40 p.m.
Residents of homes near Witch Creek were being ordered to evacuate and the
cause of the fire was being investigated.
In the meantime, the Harris Fire near Potrero crossed state Route 188 shortly
after 1 p.m. and a shelter for evacuees was set up at Steele Canyon High
School on Route 94, about two miles west of Steele Canyon Road.
Crews from County Animal Services were responding to the Steele Canyon High
School shelter, and the San Diego Humane Society was arranging to receive large
animals in fields near the Jamul Fire Station.
County officials have begun posting fire updates for the public at
Residents were being asked to call 211 for all non-emergency calls related to
this fire. If the call is initiated from a cell phone, 211 can be reached at
The fire was intially reported at 9:26 a.m. east of Harris Ranch Road, north
of state Route 94. Its cause was under investigation.
By noon the fire had crossed to the southern side of 94 near the Potrero Post
At noon, the blaze had destroyed one structure, Cal Fire officials said.
Evacuations had been ordered of homes and other structures on Potrero Park Road to
the south, and north of state Route 94, west of Harris Ranch Road and east of
Potrero Valley Road. Route 94 has been closed between Forest Gate Road and
state Route 188.
At 12:45 p.m., Cal Fire officials reported the fire had burned more than 500
acres, was threatening homes near Tecate and had become well established on
the south side of Hwy 94. Sheriff's officials were ordering evacuations of homes
along Emery Road, and were preparing to shelter-in-place the Tecate area.
A woman in the area reported that winds were erratic and gusting up to 60