Brush fires destroy homes in Southern Califronia


Photo of the Route fire north of L.A. photo courtesy Alert Wildfire, Aug. 31, 2022

Multiple brush fires burned out of control in Southern California Wednesday afternoon and evening. The Route fire spurred a no-diversion status of air tankers due to life safety threats, while the Border 32 fire in San Diego destroyed 12 structures and was moving at a “dangerous rate of spread.”

Evacuation orders have been reduced for areas North of Northlake Elementary School, South of Templin Highway including Paradise Ranch Mobile Estates, areas East of Interstate 5, and West of Castaic Lagoon. The fire has been mapped at 5,208 acres, with 27% containment. 

According to L.A. County Fire, seven firefighters have suffered heat-related injuries while battling the blaze, with five of them transported to local hospitals. 

Multiple Very Large Air Tankers (VLATs) have been requested for the fire, while Large Air Tankers (LATs) out of McClellan Air Attack Base in Sacramento have flown south to help. A strike team from CAL FIRE’s Tehama-Glenn Unit has been ordered to move south. CHP has implemented lane closures along Interstate 5, making travel in the region difficult. 550 structures remain threatened, with two destroyed.

Further south, the Border 32 fire exploded to over 4,400 acres, with 14% containment as of Thursday evening. On Wednesday, Incident Command requested all CAL FIRE San Diego Type 3 engines and crews to the fire, including six additional strike teams. One VLAT and other air resources were diverted from the Route Fire to the Border 32 Fire.

The fire is burning near Dulzura and started around 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, near State Route 94 and Barrett Lake Road. Door-to-door evacuations by San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies occurred yesterday along Barret Lake Road and Coyote Holler Road. The communities of Barrett Junction, Tecate and portions of Portrero are under an evacuation order. 

At around 6:30 p.m., units on the ground reported that the fire became well established on Portrero Peak and jumped State Route 94. The fire is progressing southeast. An evacuation center has been established at Mountain Empire High School, located at 3305 Buckman Springs Road. An evacuation map can be found here.

The Border 32 Fire as seen from the Lyons Peak 2, courtesy Alert Wildfire camera. Aug. 31, 2022
The Border 32 Fire as seen from the Lyons Peak 2, courtesy Alert Wildfire camera. Aug. 31, 2022

Large wildfires are still within the realm of possibility for Northern California over the next few months, including areas around Chico. Starting Friday, a record-breaking heatwave is expected to bake Northern California, with dangerously high temperatures up to 115 degrees in the valley. 

The Northern Geographic Coordination Center has issued high-risk wildfire days from Friday until at least Tuesday. Extreme temperatures, coupled with low humidity, breezy winds and “ultra flammable fuels” will create conditions favorable for rapid fire spread. Conditions will mirror what occurred in Southern California today. 

Michael Steinberg can be reached at [email protected] or @MichaelWX18 on Twitter.