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Valley Fire | 16,390 acres, 100% contained

The fire that began Saturday, Sept. 5 was fully contained as of Thursday, Sept. 24

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, California — Name: Valley Fire

Acreage burned: 16,390

Containment: 100%

Fire start time: Saturday, Sept 5 at 2:15 p.m.

Fire cause: Under investigation

Agencies responding: Cal Fire, Cleveland National Forest

Smoke Advisory:  Click here for the latest on the advisory.

Evacuations, Road Closure: All closures were lifted Friday, Sept 11 at 12 p.m.

Information on returning home after a wildfire can be found here.

Updates from San Diego County Emergency Site can be found here.

Emergency Food Distribution sites can be found here.

For residents in need of disaster assistance, click here, or call (858) 715-2200.

Real-Time Updates:

Final update: Thursday, Sept. 24:

The Valley Fire has reached full containment with acreage updated to 16,390.  

Wednesday 12 p.m. update

As of Wednesday afternoon, the fire remains at 95% containment, according to Cleveland National Forest officials. For the latest updates, click here.

Tuesday 5 a.m. update

As of Tuesday morning, the fire acreage burned was reduced to 17,093 and remains at 95% containment, according to Cleveland National Forest officials. For the latest updates, click here.

Monday 7 a.m. update

As of Monday morning, the fire acreage burned was reduced to 17,093 and remains at 95% containment, according to Cleveland National Forest officials. For the latest updates, click here.

Friday 7:55 a.m. update

As of Friday morning, the fire acreage burned was reduced to 17,093 and remains at 90% containment, according to Cleveland National Forest officials. Updated mapping shows that the Valley Fire is about 572 acres smaller than previously thought. For the latest updates, click here.

Thursday 7:30 a.m. update

As of Thursday morning, the fire remains at 17,665 acres and 90% containment, according to Cleveland National Forest officials. For the latest updates, click here.

Wednesday 9 a.m. update

Cleveland National Forest officials announced Wednesday that the fire remains at 17,665 acres and 90% containment. For the latest updates, click here.

Tuesday 10 a.m. update

Cleveland National Forest officials announced Tuesday that the fire remains at 17,665 acres and 87% containment. For the latest updates, click here.

Monday 7 a.m. update

Cal Fire officials announced Monday that the fire remains at 17,665 acres and 87% containment.  

Firefighters continued to work toward full containment Monday on the smoldering remains of the Valley Fire, which was 87% contained after blackening 17,665 acres in rural eastern San Diego County, authorities reported.

As of 7 a.m. Monday, the blaze, southeast of Alpine, has destroyed 30 residences and 31 outbuildings, damaged 11 other structures and injured three firefighters, according to Cal Fire.

As of Monday morning, the resources dedicated to battling the fire included 48 engines, four water-dropping helicopters, two bulldozers, 15 water tenders, 13 hand crews and a total of 609 personnel, according to Cal Fire.

Cal Fire announced that Cleveland National Forest personnel will now handle any updates about containment efforts via their website

The blaze erupted for unknown reasons early Sept. 5 off Spirit Trail and Carveacre Road and spread rapidly through tinder-dry vegetation amid sweltering heat and high winds, Cal Fire officials said.

At noon Friday, Cal Fire announced that all evacuations and road closures necessitated by the conflagration, dubbed the Valley Fire, had been lifted.

Saturday morning, the county announced the reopening of the Lake Morena and Potrero campgrounds that had been closed during the evacuation orders. Campsites were available to book online.

However, the Cleveland National Forest remained closed to the public until further notice "to protect natural resources and provide for the safety of the public and firefighters," Cal Fire advised.

"This closure will stay in place until conditions improve and we are confident that national forest visitors can recreate safely," officials with the state agency said.

The agency cautioned those returning to the fire-ravaged area to "use extreme caution around trees, power poles and other tall objects or structures that may have been weakened" by the blaze.

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department was increasing its patrols in the area to ensure public safety and prevent looting.

Officials advised that motorists in the area could face traffic disruptions due to the continued presence of firefighters, law enforcement personnel and utility workers still in the area.

Non-residents were asked to avoid locales in and around the burn zone if possible.

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for San Diego County on Sept. 6 due to the Valley Fire, a move intended to free up federal relief funds.

County officials encouraged people who have lost their homes or other property to the wildfire to call for assistance at 858-715-2200 or email: valleyfirerecovery.@sdcounty@ca.gov.

Additionally, a county assistance center for victims of the blaze will be in operation at Rancho San Diego Library, 11555 Via Rancho San Diego, on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Mondays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. until further notice.

Those who would like to help victims of the fire can make donations to a disaster-relief fund created by the San Diego Foundation. 

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Sunday 6 p.m. update

Containment on the Valley Fire reached 87% on Sunday, fire officials announced. The fire remains at 17,665. 

"Fire activity remained minimal throughout the day as firefighters continue to mop up hot spots and secure the fire perimeter. Keeping the fire within its current perimeter diminishes the threat to adjacent communities every day. High pressure over Southern California will result in increasing temperatures through the middle of the week," the latest update read in part. 

A new fire information number will be in service starting Monday: (619) 592-1290.

Sunday 7:00 a.m. update

CalFire announced Sunday morning that the fire remains 17,665 acres and 79% contained.

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Saturday 6:15 p.m. update

CalFire announced that the fire remains 17,665 acres and now is 79% contained,

Saturday 7:15 a.m. update

Valley Fire containment grows to 69% per CalFire update.

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Friday 6:15 p.m. update

Valley Fire containment grows to 55% on Friday evening.

Friday 12:15 p.m. update

All evacuation orders, warnings and road closures for the Valley Fire, that has burned 17,665 acres and remains at 39% containment, have been lifted as of Friday afternoon, according to Cal Fire.

The Cleveland National Forest, however, remains temporarily closed to the public, according to the state agency.

Friday 7:30 a.m. update

The latest Valley Fire update indicates acreage has stayed at 17,665 while containment has grown to 39%.

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Thursday 6:30 p.m. update

The latest Valley Fire update indicates acreage has stayed at 17,665 while containment has grown to 35%.

Several evacuation orders were reduced to warnings with the latest update and road closures have been adjusted as well. 

The latest update also stated that 30 homes and 31 outbuildings have been destroyed in the fire. Eleven structures have been damaged.

"Lighter winds and higher humidity should lessen fire behavior during the overnight hours. For each day the fire stays within its current perimeter; the threat to the adjacent communities continues to diminish. Crews are focused on constructing and strengthening hand and dozer lines and are focused on mopping up and providing defense to structures that remain threatened. A high-pressure system will slowly build over Southern California through the weekend and will be accompanied by gradually warming temperatures," the latest update read in part. 

Thursday 6:25 p.m. update

Fire agencies announced the closure of a temporary evacuation point at El Capitan High School effective immediately. 

"While evacuation orders are being lifted, allowing residents to return home, some may feel safer staying in emergency lodging provided by the American Red Cross," a statement shared by Cal Fire San Diego read in part. 

The evacuation center at Steele Canyon High School remains open. 

Thursday 5:20 p.m. update

Resources were stretched thin Thursday as the fight against the Valley Fire entered its sixth day. As of the last update, there were 29 major complexes throughout the state.

"17,000 sounds like a lot of land but compared to many fires in California it's a relatively small number," said an official at the base camp in Alpine.

Firefighters say they have never seen a fire season like this before and the worst is yet to come as the season usually peaks in October. 

Officials warned everyone to not even try to get near areas under evacuation orders as crews were still mopping up and it was still not safe. 

Starting Saturday, the county is opening a local assistance center at the Rancho San Diego Library to help residents affected by the Valley Fire.

Thursday 11:50 a.m. update

Cal Fire San Diego held a media briefing Thursday to provide an update on the Valley Fire which is holding at 17,665 acres and is now 32% contained. 

Thursday 7:55 a.m. update

The latest update from Cal Fire San Diego reports the Valley Fire at 17,665 acres and is now 32% contained. The latest update indicates 30 homes and 29 outbuildings have been destroyed in the Valley Fire. Eleven structures have been damaged.

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Wednesday 8:45 p.m. update

San Diego Gas & Electric reports more than half of customers impacted by Valley Fire outages have had power restored. 

Wednesday 6:55 p.m. update

Cal Fire San Diego reports the Valley Fire is now at 17,665 acres and 27% contained. The latest update indicates 26 homes and 25 outbuildings have been destroyed in the Valley Fire. Eleven structures have been damaged.

"The fire was impacted by the strong offshore wind event later than forecasted this morning. Due to the fire retardant that was laid down yesterday, and the strong air support again today, resources were successful in keeping the fire from getting established and pushing into more populated areas to the west. Dry conditions will continue with a gradual warming trend through the weekend," the latest update read in part.

Wednesday 6:45 p.m. update

Cal Fire and other agencies working the Valley Fire announced a reduction of some evacuation orders to evacuation warnings. The areas listed below have been moved to the evacuation warning list. Proof of residency will be required for re-entry into the affected areas. 

  • Corte Madera Ranch 
  • Barrett Dam 
  • All areas accessible from Lawson Valley Road to the east, with the exception of Forest Park Road
  • North side of Japatul Road between Sycuan Truck Trail and Hidden Glen Road

All other evacuation orders remain in effect.

Residents in the areas impacted by the Valley Fire can call 2-1-1 for non-emergency fire information such as evacuation order, shelters and road closures. 

For additional information on returning home after a wildfire, click here.

Wednesday 4:05 p.m. update

Cal Fire said Wednesday afternoon that firefighters were burning off some islands of unburned fuel from the Valley Fire on Gaskill Peak. Smoke may be seen throughout areas of San Diego County.

Wednesday 3:30 p.m. update

Flames reported near 18782 Lawson Hills Road in Jamul, near the southwest corner of the Valley Fire. Watch aerial coverage of the flames. 

Wednesday 2:30 p.m. update

San Diego Humane Society tweeted out an update: "If you and your animals are in imminent fire danger and need assistance, contact the San Diego County Department of Animal Services (DAS) at 619-236-2341. They will deploy our team to help."

Wednesday 11 a.m. update

At approximately 10:30 a.m., SDG&E crews successfully patrolled equipment for safety & restored power to affected customers in Descanso. The Descanso Community Resource Center (CRC) will no longer be activated.  

Wednesday 8:46 a.m. update

The Valley Fire remains at 17,565 acres with 11% containment. 

A Red Flag Warning is in effect until 8 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 9 with anticipated winds reaching 45 mph overnight in the mountains and valleys.

Wednesday 8:30 a.m. update

SDG&E crews successfully patrolled equipment for safety & restored power to affected customers in Valley Center (VC). The VC Community Resource Center (CRC) will no longer be activated. 

Wednesday 6:30 a.m. update

The County of San Diego has established a Recovery Hotline and email to help all those affected by the Valley Fire. 

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Tuesday 9:20 p.m update

Cal Fire San Diego's latest update indicates 20 homes and 25 outbuildings have been destroyed in the Valley Fire. Nine structures have been damaged.

A Red Flag Warning is in effect until 8 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 9 with anticipated winds reaching 45 mph overnight in the mountains and valleys.

Tuesday 8:20 p.m update

The Valley Fire is now at 17,565 acres with 11% containment.

The fire has resulted in two injuries, authorities said. It was not immediately clear if the victims were firefighters or civilians.

Strong, dry winds around the burn area have made efforts to control the blaze extremely urgent and challenging.

Tuesday 8:15 p.m update

Fire officials said their challenge in battling the raging Valley Fire on the fourth day in a row was the extreme topography in Alpine and Jamul.

“This fire is racing up and down the hillside - not always the most visible - not like the first couple days where they were very obvious plumes," said Cal Fire Public Information Officer Thomas Shoots. 

Officials said earlier Tuesday that 1,400 people had been evacuated and were urged not to return to the area until it was deemed safe. 

Tuesday 5:30 p.m update

The Temporary Evacuation Point at Joan MacQueen Middle School in Alpine has closed.  You can go to the following locations:  Steele Canyon High School at 12440 Campo Road, Spring Valley  El Capitan High School at 10410 Ashwood Street, Lakeside

Tuesday 3 p.m. update

Jamul-Dulzura Union School District has announced it will remain closed for the rest of the week due to the Valley Fire and possible power outages.

SDG&E has notified about 16,700 customers in areas surrounding the blaze in Japatul Valley to be prepared for electrical-service shutoffs through Thursday.

Potentially affected communities include parts of Alpine, Barrett Lake, Buckman Springs, Campo, Dehesa, Dulzura, Jamul, Lyons Valley, Morena Village, Potrero and Rancho Palo Verde.

Tuesday 11:30 a.m. update

Cal Fire San Diego provided an update at a media conference Tuesday. The Valley Fire remains at 17,345 acres and is 3% contained. All evacuations and road closures remain in effect.

The San Diego Sheriff's Department urged residents not to wait to prepare a wildlife evacuation plan for your family. For more information, click here.

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Monday 6:28 p.m. update

The Valley Fire is now at 17,345 acres and 3% containment, according to Cal Fire San Diego.

 All evacuations and road closures remain in effect

5:10 p.m. Monday update

The Cleveland National Forest will be closed effective Monday at 5 p.m. and will be re-evaluated as conditions changes. 

2:50 p.m. Monday update

Cal Fire announced additional evacuation orders for the area of Core Madera, south of Pine Valley.

Monday 11:15 a.m. update

New evacuation orders are in effect for the areas of Corral Canyon off-road area, Bob Cat Meadows, and Los Pinos according to a tweet by Cal Fire.

Monday 8:20 a.m. update

Cal Fire will be exercising the agreement it has with the Navy Third Fleet and the First Marine Expeditionary Force to utilize military aircraft to help fight the Valley Fire.

Monday 6:45 a.m. update

A tweet by the Cleveland National Forest account reported the overnight update of the Valley Fire.  The fire grew 408 acres overnight bringing the total acres burned to 10,258 and 1% contained.

Updated map showing the burn area of the Valley Fire as of Monday morning:

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Sunday 8:45 p.m. update

The Cleveland National Forest reports the Valley Fire is now at 9,850 acres with 374 personnel fighting the blaze in Japatul Valley near Alpine. Eleven structures have been lost.  A containment update last given by Cal Fire was at 1%. 

The next update is expected Monday morning around 8:30 a.m. 

Sunday 7:30 p.m. update

California Governor Gavin Newsom has issued a state of emergency in San Diego County due to the Valley Fire. The governor's announcement also included emergency proclamations for the counties of Fresno, Madera and Mariposa due to the Creek Fire and for San Bernardino County due to the El Dorado Fire. 

Sunday 6:30 p.m. update

News 8's update of the Valley Fire

Sunday 4:40 p.m. update 

On Sunday, San Diego Gas & Electric reported power outages affecting 1,288 customers in the fire area.

Communities affected when the Valley Fire damaged the electric system were Dulzura, Potrero, Campo, Jamul, North Jamul, West Jamul, Lyons Valley, Barrett Lake, Dehesa, Alpine, West Alpine, Rancho Palo Verde, Harbison Canyon, Glen Oaks, Jamacha and Indian Springs. Power was not expected to be restored until noon Monday, SDG&E said.

The utility said it has crews staged at the site of the fire and will work to restore power once Cal Fire determines it is safe to enter the area

The San Diego County Pollution Control District issued a smoke advisory Sunday, saying air quality levels were unhealthy in areas of heavy smoke.

"Due to the Valley Fire burning near Alpine in San Diego County, areas of smoke are affecting parts of the county," district officials said. "The smoke continues to disperse above ground level away from the immediate area of the fire and is generally blowing toward the west-northwest as of Sunday afternoon. Smoke impacts are likely in areas near the fire, where fine particulates may reach unhealthful levels.

"In areas of heavy smoke, assume that air quality levels are unhealthy for sensitive groups to unhealthy for all individuals. In areas with minor smoke impacts, assume that air quality levels range from moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups."

Meteorological conditions were expected to improve air quality and shift the trajectory of the smoke toward the east and northeast on Monday, pollution control officials said.

"In areas where you smell smoke it is advised that you limit physical and outdoor activity," officials said. "If possible, stay indoors to limit your exposure to fine particulate matter and ozone, especially those residents with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children."

RELATED: Valley Fire evacuees struggle to find shelter, information

Sunday 3:40 p.m. update

According to Cal Fire, the Valley Fire is now 5,350 acres and is 1% contained, burning at a critical/dangerous rate of spread. Earlier, the San Diego Sheriff's Department had estimated the acreage burned to be between 6,500 and 7,000.

Structures are being threatened in Carveacre, Lawson Valley, Wood Valley, Lyons Valley, and Deer Horn Valley.

The Orange County Fire Authority dispatched a "strike team" of five fire engines and two battalion chiefs to assist their southern colleagues on Saturday, joining crews from the Cleveland National Forest and Cal Fire.

Watch live video from Sunday afternoon shot from Japatul Lyons Valley Rd:

Sunday 1:45 p.m. update

The San Diego Sheriff's Department shared an update saying the evacuation center at Joan MacQueen Middle School is back open. 

Sunday Noon update

The San Diego Sheriff's Department announced that one of the temporary evacuation points for the Valley Fire has been closed and anyone evacuated was advised to go to Steele Canyon High School. 

The agency also asked for "looky-loos" to stop pulling over to take photos of the fire as it was creating a hazard for firefighters in the area. 

Sunday 11 a.m. update

The Valley Fire in the Japatul Valley near Alpine burned 4,000 acres overnight with no containment and 10 structures destroyed, Cal Fire San Diego reported. 

Cal Fire reported that 335 firefighters were on the ground battling the fire and that structures were being threatened in the Carveacre and Lawson Valley, Wood Valley, Lyons Valley, Deer Valley and Sycuan Indian Reservation. Resources include four bulldozers and five water tenders.

The San Diego Air Pollution Control District issued a Smoke Advisory due to the Valley Fire. 

"In areas of heavy smoke, assume that air quality levels are unhealthy for sensitive groups to unhealthy for all individuals.  In areas with minor smoke impacts, assume that air quality levels range from moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups," the advisory read in part. 

"In areas where you smell smoke it is advised that you limit physical/outdoor activity.  If possible, stay indoors to limit your exposure to fine particulate matter and ozone, especially those residents with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children," the agency reported. 

The San Diego Sheriff's Department warned people not to fly drones over the wildfire as it puts pilots fighting the fire at risk. 

The fire agency also reported that there was an immediate threat to Sunrise Power 500 KV power lines, which supply a large portion of San Diego County's electricity.

On Sunday morning, San Diego Gas & Electric reported power outages affecting 1,288 customers in the fire area.

Communities affected when the Valley Fire damaged the electric system were Dulzura, Potrero, Campo, Jamul, North Jamul, Lyons Valley and Barrett Lake. A total of 1,020 customers were affected and power was expected to be restored by 5 p.m. 

The communities affected when weather damaged equipment were Dehesa, Alpine, Rancho Palo Verde, Harbison Canyon, Glen Oaks, West Alpine, Jamacha, West Jamul, Indian Springs, Lyons Valley, and Barrett Lake. A total of 268 customers in those areas were affected and SDG&E estimated power would be restored by 5 p.m. there as well.

The utility said it has crews staged at the site of the fire and will work to restore power once Cal Fire determines it is safe to enter the area.

The San Diego Humane Society said that their Emergency Response Team was preparing for their second day of assisting with animal evacuations. 

Residents who need assistance to evacuate animals from the fast-moving brush fire were urged to call the San Diego Humane Society at 619-299-7012 (press 1). 

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Sunday 9:00 a.m. update:

Cal Fire tweeted that the fire is now 4,000 acres and is 0% contained, 10 structures has been destroyed.  

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Sunday 7:00 a.m. update:

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department has issued an emergency evacuation message on Sunday, September 6, 2020, at 3:45 am. about the fire that is spreading in the Carveacre area.

An evacuation order has been issued for areas west of the intersection of Japatul Rd and Lyons Valley Rd.  An evacuation order means that persons in the affected area need to evacuate to a safe location to ensure their safety.

All residents can evacuate to Joan McQueen Middle School at 2001 Tavern Road.  or Steele Canyon High School at 2440 Campo Road.

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Saturday, 10:00 p.m. update

Evacuation orders remain in effect for the community of Carveacre. The San Diego Sheriff tweeted out that deputies will be be stationed at roadblocks around the fire:

  • Japatul Rd & Carveacre Rd 
  • Lawson Valley Rd & Skyline Truck Trail 
  • Japatul Rd & Sequan Truck Trail 
  • Japatul Rd & Hidden Glen Rd

Saturday,  8:40 p.m. update

#ValleyFire is still reported at 1,500 acres after sunset.  SoCal Air Operations tweeted out that "All aircraft have been released for the night. San Diego Fire Department has offered 1 night dropping helicopter upon request."

Live coverage of the fire from the ground:

Saturday,  6:42 p.m. update 

Cal Fire PIO Kendal Bortisser sent an update about the Valley Fire. 

I would like to provide you with the latest update on the vegetation fire burning in the Japatul Valley area. The fire is currently 1,500 acres and 0% contained. CAL FIRE is in Unified Command with CNF Cleveland National Forest. There is an evacuation order in effect for the community of Carve Acre which is southeast of Alpine. A TEP Temporary Evacuation Point has been set up at Steele Canyon High School in Spring Valley and Joan MacQueen Middle School in Alpine.

Saturday,  5:52 p.m. update 

Cal Fire reports the blaze is up to 1,500 acres

Saturday,  5:15 p.m. update 

SDG&E says 1,000 customers are without power as a result of the #ValleyFire. The fire is impacting SDG&E equipment in the vicinity of the fire. SDG&E has activated its Emergency Operations Center and is closely monitoring the fire. 

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The original story can be found below

Cal Fire and Cleveland National Forest are on the scene of a fire off Spirit Trail Road and Japatul Road in Japatul Valley.

The agencies say the fire started around 3 p.m. and has charred 1,500 acres and currently has a dangerous rate of spread.

Cal Fire says the areas or Carveacre and Lawson Valley are being evacuated. Area residents are evacuating to Joan McQueen Middle School or Steele Canyon Middle School.

According to Southern California Air Operations, multiple structures protection groups are being formed. There has also been a "no-divert" placed on six air tankers due to immediate life threat.

Multiple air and ground resources are on scene fighting the flames but it is zero percent contained. 

Cal Fire has dubbed the blaze the #ValleyFire