Fire burns more than 800 acres in northern San Diego County

Brushfire in northern San Diego County leads to 20,000 evacuation calls

The brushfire that erupted in the Rancho Bernardo area Tuesday has burned more than 800 acres but no structures have been damaged, according to the San Diego Fire and Rescue Department.

With the blaze, dubbed the Bernardo fire, being fought by hundreds of firefighters as well as water-dropping helicopters and a Cal-Fire fixed-wing aircraft, firefighters appear cautiously optimistic that the fire can be contained without homes or businesses being damaged.

At 5:30 p.m., the fire was estimated to be 5% contained. With winds decreasing, firefighters were able to get into difficult terrain in the brushy canyons.

More than 20,000 evacuation calls were made by various fire and emergency agencies to homes, businesses and cellphone numbers. But it remained unclear how many homes were actually evacuated.

The calls were made in the Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Penasquitos, Fairbanks Ranch and Rancho Santa Fe area. The Fairbanks Ranch Country Club was ordered evacuated. An evacuation center was established at Rancho Bernardo High School.

The fire was reported shortly before 11 a.m. near El Norte High School and was pushed by hot, dry winds. Two elementary schools were evacuated. The fire approached numerous homes but airdrops and firefighters on the ground were able to stop its spread.

Thirty engines were fighting the blaze by late afternoon, with 30 more requested, said San Diego Fire and Rescue Department spokesman Lee Swanson.

Hundreds of animals were being evacuated to SeaWorld in San Diego, the Del Mar Fairgrounds, and the Helen Woodward Animal Shelter outside Rancho Santa Fe.


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