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Third fire along Hwy 78 was accidental, say authorities

A fire that started Monday and closed Hwy 78 for two nights was not, as was initially reported, an arson fire. Instead, the Cloverdale Fire in Escondido “was caused by a tire rim that sparked brush on the side of the road.” It’s no longer being investigated as arson.
Firefighters from San Diego City, Escondido and CalFire and Rancho Santa Fe, among other agencies battled the blaze in the Valley where the Safari Park is located.
This is the third fire to erupt along Hwy 78 in the last two weeks.
San Diego City Fire Department dubbed the fire the “Cloverdale Fire” and at the time of this writing, on Wednesday, it had burned 100 acres and was 65 percent contained.
Our Times-Advocate reporter was the second to arrive at the scene Monday and was on the fire lines getting video and photos for our readers. Check our Facebook page for videos: (facebook.com/TimesAdvocate).
The authorities were aggressive to hit the fire with everything they had at the beginning.
Helicopters and large tankers dropped retardant on the fire, which threatened several residences. The goal was to get as much retardant on the blaze as possible before it got dark, when it becomes dangerous for aircraft to operate.
For a while the blaze jumped Hwy 78 near the Safari Park and moved east into the nearby development. No homes were burned however.
Sheriff’s deputies evacuated residents of the area, including the Rancho San Pasqual development where our church columnist Rob Granger lives. Many residents went to the nearby San Pasqual High School, which served as a temporary shelter. At the shelter volunteers from Chili’s restaurant served hundreds of meals to the temporary refugees and firefighters.
Granger described his experience. Granger, who had just returned from vacation, was unable to get home from work Monday night. “I left work early to head that way and was unable to get in. At that point . . . right after the fire first started, about the time the emergency vehicles were heading that way, there were a couple of helicopters flying overhead. The smoke was billowing from Southeast to north west and I received a report of the flames jumped Highway 78.”

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