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Banner Fire fully contained

Firefighter Scott Abraham, of the San Bernardino County Fire Department, sprays water as his crew tries to keep the fire from crossing a San Diego County road Friday, May 25, 2012, near Julian, Calif. (AP photo) Firefighter Scott Abraham, of the San Bernardino County Fire Department, sprays water as his crew tries to keep the fire from crossing a San Diego County road Friday, May 25, 2012, near Julian, Calif. (AP photo)
Firefighter Jay Dimoff, of the San Bernardino County Fire Department, yells to his crew as they try to keep fire from crossing a San Diego County road Friday, May 25, 2012, near Julian, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull) Firefighter Jay Dimoff, of the San Bernardino County Fire Department, yells to his crew as they try to keep fire from crossing a San Diego County road Friday, May 25, 2012, near Julian, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Last updated: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 at 2:31 PM

Banner Fire
Acres burned:
5,321
Containment: Fully contained
Location: Off Banner Grade, south of Highway 78, east of the community of Julian
Start date: May 24, 2012 2:09 p.m.
Cause: Equipment-related, under investigation

SHELTER VALLEY (CNS) - Crews battling a wildfire that blackened about 5,300 open acres east of Julian got the sprawling burn area fully contained Tuesday.

Some type of equipment mishap sparked the conflagration early Thursday afternoon in the Cigarette Hills area, near Banner Grade and southwest of Scissors Crossing, according to Cal Fire. The agency declined to specify what type of apparatus started the blaze, citing ongoing investigations.

Hundreds of crew members fought the so-called Banner Fire, which caused no reported structural damage, by ground and air as it spread rapidly, pushed by strong easterly winds.

Within 90 minutes of the start of the blaze, authorities evacuated about 100 Shelter Valley-area homes potentially in the path of the flames. The displaced residents were able to return to their houses about six hours later.

On Friday, sheriff's personnel cleared about 50 people out of Stagecoach Trails RV Park & Resort when the fire flared up while moving to the southeast through Shelter Valley.

Crews finished the job of surrounding the burn zone late Tuesday morning, Cal Fire Battalion Chief Nick Schuler said.

Four firefighters suffered minor injuries, including heat exhaustion, cuts and bruises, while attacking the flames, according to Schuler.

THIS IS A STORY UPDATE. For more information, read below.

SHELTER VALLEY (CNS) - Authorities evacuated a campground near Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Friday as firefighters worked to corral a wildfire that has scorched thousands of open acres in rugged terrain east of Julian.

About 50 people were cleared out of Stagecoach Trails RV Park & Resort in the early afternoon when the blaze, dubbed the Banner Fire, flared up while moving to the southeast through Shelter Valley, authorities said.

The county opened an evacuation center at Borrego Springs High School for any displaced campers who needed it.

The fire erupted for unknown reasons in the Cigarette Hills area, near Banner Grade, early Thursday afternoon. Within two hours, it had grown to 1,000-plus acres, driven by steady winds out of the west.

The flames have spread over more than 3,100 acres, closing several highways and moving toward some inhabited areas but causing no known structural damage or injuries, according to Cal Fire. By late this morning, crews had the burn area roughly 20 percent contained, said Nick Schuler, a battalion chief for the state agency.

"There's been a lot of work done overnight," he said. "The winds have increased a little bit, but we're making good progress."

Shortly after the blaze erupted, authorities cleared residents out of about 100 back-country residences potentially in its path in Shelter Valley.

Those evacuees were allowed to return to their homes within 12 hours.

Hundreds of personnel have been working the fire lines, aided by crews aboard air tankers and water-dropping helicopters. There have been no estimates for projected time of full containment or control.

It was unclear what sparked the flames, which moved through an area scorched last October by a 2,100-acre blaze dubbed the Great Fire.

THIS IS A STORY UPDATE. For more information, read below.

SHELTER VALLEY (CNS) - Roughly 100 residents were back in their homes Friday morning as firefighters slowly gained the upper hand on a wildfire that has scorched hundreds of open acres east of Julian, authorities said.  

The so-called Banner Fire near Banner Grade in the Shelter Valley area of eastern San Diego County began spreading about 2:15 p.m. Thursday,prompting the closure of several highways and the evacuation of scores of back-country homes potentially in the path of the wind-driven flames, according to Cal Fire.  

It was 20 percent contained as of early Friday, Cal Fire Battalion Chief Nick Schuler said.    

"There's been a lot of work done overnight," he said. "The winds have increased a little bit but we're making good progress."    

The blaze started moving in a southeasterly direction toward the desert, away from Julian, and residents of the Shelter Valley area were being allowed to return to their homes, according to a recorded message on the Cal Fire Incident Information Line.  

About 500 firefighters were battling the blaze, the message stated. No estimate was given for when the fire would be fully contained and extinguished.  

Within two hours of starting, the burn area had grown to more than 1,000 acres, according to Schuler. It expanded to roughly 2,500 acres by early Friday, but no injuries or structural damage was reported, Schuler said.  

It was not immediately clear what sparked the blaze, which was burning in an area scorched in early October by a 2,100-acre inferno dubbed the Great Fire. The cause of the fire was under investigation.  

A shelter for displaced residents was opened at Borrego Springs High School but closed Thursday night after the evacuation orders were lifted.

Concerned residents were advised to call (619) 590-3160 or 211 for information. 

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