Wildfire Cal Fire
A highway sign blackened by the Border 32 Fire. Photo credit: @CalFireSanDiego, via Twitter

Hundreds of back-country residents displaced by a wildfire that spread over more than 4,400 acres northwest of Tecate returned to their homes Friday.

The full repopulation of rural areas in Dulzura and Potrero began at 1:45 p.m., as firefighters continued to douse hot spots in the smoldering burn zone of the Border 32 Fire, according to Cal Fire.

As of Friday evening, no active flames remained, and the blaze was 65% contained, the agency reported. The perimeters of the fire had not expanded since Thursday, when its size was estimated at 4,438 acres.

The blaze erupted for unknown reasons about 2 p.m. Wednesday off Barrett Lake Road, near state Route 94 in the Barrett Junction area, roughly three miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border.

As ground and airborne crews with up to 800 personnel worked to subdue the fast-moving flames, deputies evacuated residents in the areas of Barrett Smith and Round Potrero roads, and emergency crews shut down a stretch of state Route 94 between Forrest Gate Road in Campo and Otay Lakes Road in Dulzura, according to the sheriff’s officials.

The fire destroyed three houses and injured six people.

Tecate Port of Entry also was shut down, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported. The facility is scheduled to reopen Saturday.

Two men suffered severe burns as the fire spread, Cal Fire Capt. Thomas Shoots said. They were taken by helicopter to UCSD Medical Center in San Diego. Four firefighters also sustained injuries, all believed to be minor, while battling the flames.

In addition to the gutted houses in the Barrett Junction area, the known property losses resulting were six outbuildings, including barns and sheds, along with a commercial structure and three recreational vehicles, Cal Fire reported.

– City News Service and staff reports



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Ellen Bullock