The Chariot Fire rages on the Sunrise Highway
By Lori Bledsoe
For The Alpine Sun
The Chariot Fire has been ripping through our Laguna Mountains, beginning on Saturday, July 6 around 1 p.m. approximately nine miles south of Julian. Authorities closed down all routes to the Laguna mountains including Pine Creek Road from Pine Valley.
Mandatory evacuations began on Sunday afternoon. Evacuations extended on Sunrise Highway from Highway 79 to Old Hiway 80, El Prad Horse Heaven and Laguna Campgrounds and the Al Bahr Shrine Camp as well as the Foster Lodge. As of Monday, mile marker 17- 29 was evacuated and an “Alert San Diego” was sent out to the residents within the area. The Red Cross stationed an evacuation center up at Joan McQueen Middle School and on Monday night four families stayed overnight.
Because of the terrain, this fire has been challenging to fight. The weather has consistently held, but the winds have whipped up on the mountain reaching gusts of 80 miles an hour. Containment has fluctuated due to the winds, but as of press-time on Wednesday, containment has reached 40 percent with 7,055 acres burned.. The latest report includes destruction of 120 structures, with several more temporary structures reporting damage. This number has not been substantiated, but officials will comment further when it’s safe to proceed with investigations in the area.
Five minor injuries have also been reported for this incident, with 2,147 fire personnel working from the following agencies: CAL FIRE, USFS Cleveland NF, CHP, San Diego County Fire Authority, San Diego County Sheriff and California State Parks. Total Fire engines on scene include 183, 56 fire crews, 4 airtankers, 2 helicopters, 24 dozers and 24 water tenders.
Five of Alpine’s fire fighters have joined in the battle, Chief Rushing, the Division Group Supervisor, along with Brush 17, a crew of four members.