A brush fire that broke out east of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park between San Pasqual and Ramona on Friday afternoon drew a fast and heavy attack by crews and helicopters as it quickly charred 240 acres of rugged terrain and prompted evacuations.
The Pasqual fire erupted for unknown reasons about 1:30 p.m. near State Route 78, Cal Fire spokesman Issac Sanchez said. It spread on both sides of the highway along the eastern end of the San Pasqual Valley.
By 7 p.m., all active flames had been extinguished, the forward spread of the fire had been halted and the burn area was 5% contained, Sanchez said. An estimated 240 acres were burned, though more exact mapping using GPS technology was expected overnight.
Amid temperatures that reached as high as 102 degrees at 3 p.m. in Ramona, Cal Fire issued evacuation orders about 3:30 p.m. for more than a dozen streets in the area.
All evacuees were being directed to Ramona High School at 1401 Hanson Lane in Ramona.
Fire officials said winds were blowing from the west Friday afternoon but were not strong. Officials did not expect the winds to significantly strengthen or change direction, but still warned residents to stay alert.
“When we have a fire like this, the potential we’ve got and the kind of the fuel conditions we have, every community that’s in the area in any direction should be very cognizant of what’s going on,” said Deputy Chief Kelly Zombro of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.
Investigators taped off a dirt turnout south of Route 78 near San Dieguito Park’s Clevenger South trailhead, where they believe the blaze may have originated. The investigators did not immediately say what might have sparked it.
A spokeswoman for the San Diego Zoo said the Safari Park remained open Friday as the blaze was moving away from the park.
Darla Davis said there had been an erroneous news report earlier in the day that animals at the park had been crated for safety.
The Safari Park, formerly named the San Diego Wild Animal Park, is an extension of the San Diego Zoo and keeps many large and endangered animals in free-range enclosures.
Safari Park officials do have a protocol that involves crating some animals and moving others to an on-site hospital or barn during a fire, but none of those steps were taken Friday.
8:20 p.m.: This article was updated throughout with new information about the fire and the Safari Park.
This article was originally published at 3:35 p.m.