Evacuation warnings issued due to fire near Julian

City News Service

Persons in subdivisions east and south of Julian were told to prepare to evacuate Sunday, as a fire burned 2,000 acres at the bottom of the steep hills east of the mountaintop resort.

Sheriff’s deputies used an automated telephone system called reverse 911'’ during the noon hour to notify persons in several subdivisions to get ready to move out, as theGreat Fire’’ burned heavy brush, threatened 25 trailers in a canyon east of Julian, and forced the closure of Highway 78.

We are only advising people to leave right now, not ordering them,’' said Cal Fire Captain Mike Mohler. The homes and businesses near historic Main Street in Julian were not included in the evacuation advisory.

This is only an advisory and the public should not panic. We are asking that these areas please be prepared if asked to leave and not wait until the last minute,’' Mohler said.

Affected areas included the Whispering Pines and other subdivisions south of Julian and east of state Route 79, and subdivisions along Route 78 in the Banner Grade area east of the Julian fire station.

Before noon, the fire was lapping at the edges of Mastro’s Trailer Ranch on Route 78 east of Banner Grade, threatening 25 structures there.

Route 78 remained closed Sunday between Wynola Road’s crossing east of Julian, and Scissors Crossing. The fire had burned 2,000 acres and was 5 percent contained, Mohler said. Fire lines had been cut in heavy brush around just 5 percent of the fire, on the south side of state Route 78 near Scissors Crossing, where Route 78 intersects Great Southern Overland Route of 1849.

Traffic between San Diego and Borrego Springs was diverted to a lengthy detour using Route 79 and County Road S-2 through Warner Springs. Traffic was allowed on Banner Grade as far east as the bottom of the hill, the CHP said.

The fire initially had burned southwest from Scissors Crossing, but a shift in the wind direction caused the blaze to head east toward the Mastro Trailer Ranch, Cal Fire spokeswoman Roxanne Provaznik said.

The blaze was reported about 12:55 p.m. Saturday and the cause remained under investigation, according to Provaznik.

The burning area is owned by California State Parks and the Bureau of Land Management, Provaznik said.

Approximately 1,000 firefighters participated in the suppression effort, Provaznik said.

Cal Fire initially called this blaze the Grade Fire,’' but Cal Fire Battalion Chief Nick Schuler said it would be referred to as theGreat Fire’’ as of Sunday.