Fallbrook Fire Update – Today’s fire in Fallbrook is spreading and jumping haphazardly with Santa Ana wind gusts exceeeding 50 mph causing firefighters extreme difficulty.

The Rice Canyon Fire – aka the Fallbrook fire – located east of Interstate 15 and south of Temecula, is threatening Fallbrook as it burns west and south.

Start of wildfire

In the Fallbrook fire, evacuation notifications were made at 8:30 AM PST to Rainbow Area residents (I-15 on west, Rainbow Valley on the north, Pala Temecula on the East and Pala Rd. on the south) instructing residents to evacuate to the west.

As of 11:00 AM PST, Caltrans is now requesting that Interstate 15 be closed again because of fire threats to wooden structures along the freeway.

In San Diego County, a quarter million homes have been evacuated as seven major fires torched 40,000 acres in two days. That’s more than 62 square miles burned just in San Diego County!

Witch Creek Fire

Fire Chief Bill Metcalf expects things to get much worse, not better.

Metcalf described the fire conditions as “extraordinarily dangerous” and “dramatically worsening.” “This is nowhere near finished,” he said. “This is worst than many of us imagined. We’re seeing 100 to 200 feet flame lengths and truly explosive fire behavior.”

Rancho bernardo wind-whipped fire

The Witch fire is rapidly burning in two directions – to the west and to the south. It has crossed Interstate 15 at Lake Hodges into Rancho Bernardo.

“I think it will go to the ocean before it stops,” Metcalf said, which means the fire would pass through Rancho Santa Fe, Solana Beach and Encinitas.

Rancho Bernardo home burns

Metcalf also is concerned that the Witch fire will take the same path as the 2003 Cedar fire, south through Wildcat Canyon, Barona, Lakeside and Santee.

Escondido as fire approached last night

The Harris fire continues to move “dramatically to the west and cause a great deal of destruction,” Metcalf said.  He expects the fire to spread to the ocean through the communities of Otay Lakes and Chula Vista.

Fire support aircraft temporarily grounded due to high winds:Super Scooper aircraft are grounded today
Firefighting efforts have been hindered because the aircrafts used to fight the flames are grounded due to strong winds and poor visibility.

And that’s the latest news on the Fallbrook fire.