Fire in San Diego County grows to 260 acres; residents warned to ‘be ready to leave’


A fast-moving brush fire has grown to 260 acres in the northern San Diego County community of Pala on Wednesday afternoon, and fire crews do not have any of it contained, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection officials said.

Dubbed the Mesa fire, it started west of Pala Casino, near State Route 76. Evacuation warnings are in place, Cal Fire Capt. Frank LoCoco said.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department tweeted that evacuations are voluntary, “but be ready to leave when advised to do so.”

The evacuation site east of the fire has been moved from Casino Pauma to Valley Center High School on Cole Grade Road. The park-and-ride at Highway 76 and Interstate 15 remains as the evacuation site west of the fire.


The fire was reported just before 2:30 p.m.

As of about 4:30 p.m., LoCoco said one structure was threatened. He said the winds were favorable, but slopes were driving the spread.

Highway 76 is closed between Horse Creek Ranch to Pala Casino. North County Fire Protection District tweeted that smoke was visible in the area.

Figueroa writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


9:07 p.m. June 23, 2021: This story was updated with additional details.