Rapidly spreading fire near Julian, CA causing evacuations

Banner fire, 540 p.m. May 24
Banner fire, 540 p.m. May 24
Banner fire, 5:40 p.m. PT, May 24. Looking north from Mt. Laguna. HPWREN photo.

UPDATE at 8:00 a.m. PT, May 25:

The fire has burned 2,500 acres and is 20% contained. The evacuations in the Shelter Valley area have been lifted. Highways S-2 and 78 have been reopened. The photo below was taken at 9:04 a.m. PT, May 25.

Banner fire, 904 a.m. May 25
Banner fire area, 9:04 a.m. PT, May 25. Looking north from Mt. Laguna. HPWREN photo.

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UPDATED at 7:07 p.m. PT, May 24, 2012

A fire in the desert east of Julian, California (map) is spreading rapidly and causing evacuations in the Shelter Valley area. As of 5:45 p.m. PT, May 24, CAL FIRE was calling the Banner fire 1,200 acres. A strong west wind is pushing the fire onto Granite Mountain while approximately 100 homes are being evacuated in Shelter Valley. The fire is near Scissors Crossing close to the intersection of Highways S-2 and 78.

By 10 p.m. Thursday the relative humidity should increase to 76 percent, which will have a dampening effect on the fire. The minimum relative humidity on Friday will be around 39, which is pretty high for the desert.  The wind is expected to continue into Friday night, blowing at 20 mph Thursday night gusting to 31, and increasing during the day on Friday, peaking at 31 mph and gusting to 49.

Many firefighting resources are at scene or responding, including 40 engines, 6 air tankers, 6 helicopters, and 8 hand crews. One strike team of engines is coming from northern California.

A web camera on Mt. Laguna is pointed toward the fire.

Thanks go out to Lone Ranger

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills. Google+

3 thoughts on “Rapidly spreading fire near Julian, CA causing evacuations”

  1. what is the # of federal air tankes there ? or are we on our own? CA has it’s own tankers and good fire protection, but should we have no support from the goverment becuase we are perpare?

  2. Mark1,

    Not quite sure of your question/comment.

    Tanker 07 and Tanker 55 were brought in late in the afternoon to support the fire tomorrow. After landing, Tanker 07 went out of service – mechanical. Unknown ETA for repairs.

    Tanker 55 is assigned for tomorrow.

  3. The question is mostly:

    1.) Should airtankers be dropping on a wind driven fire where they are ineffective and with minimal risks, or rather

    2.) Should folks just chill out and WAIT for the higher RH and drizzle associated with the approaching trough of low pressure… and let the fire go out with minimal suppression activity and minimal firefighter exposure while focusing at key values at risk?

    Stuff on the desert slopes run like a gazelle with the winds… but as soon as the RH comes up… Folks can’t DEMOB the stuff quick enough…. Balance gain vs. risk.

    If this fire wasn’t in SoCal… it probably wouldn’t even be a headline in the news.

    IMHO

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