Charred trees
Charred trees from the Border 32 Fire. Courtesy Cal Fire

The wildfire that spread to more than 4,456 acres northwest of Tecate, destroying three houses and injuring six people, was 95% contained as of Monday morning, and hundreds of displaced residents have returned to their homes.

No active flames remained in the sooty footprint of the conflagration as of Friday and the perimeters of the fire had not expanded since Thursday, according to Cal Fire San Diego.

Full repopulation of rural areas in the Dulzura and Potrero communities of southern San Diego County began at 1:45 p.m. Friday, as firefighters continued to douse hot spots in the smoldering burn zone of the Border 32 Fire.

The blaze erupted for unknown reasons around 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 air crews 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.

Tecate Port of Entry also was temporarily closed due to the fire, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported.

Schools in the Jamul-Dulzura Union and Mountain Empire Unified school districts also were shuttered Thursday and Friday.

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

At the height of the blaze, some 300 crew members were fighting the flames by ground and aboard air tankers and water-dropping helicopters, officials said.

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

–City News Service



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Ellen Bullock