Investigators: Juveniles started Del Cerro fire using a lighter - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Investigators: Juveniles started Del Cerro fire using a lighter

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8/CNS) - A fire that scorched 38 acres of vegetation and forced the evacuation of about 80 homes in Del Cerro, north of San Diego State University, was started by juveniles, authorities said Monday.

They were identified only as a 12-year-old male and a 12-year-old female; no other information was given due to their ages.

The so-called Adobe Fire was 95 percent contained as of 4:00 p.m. Monday with 100 percent containment expected by 6 p.m. Monday, June 4, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokeswoman Monica Munoz said. Flames erupted a little after 4 p.m. Sunday just north of Interstate 8 and south of Adobe Falls Road, between College Avenue to the east and Waring Road to the west.

Flames threatened about 80 homes on or near Adobe Falls Road, prompting mandatory evacuations as ground crews and air-tanker helicopters worked to extinguish the flames, authorities said. Nobody was injured and no structures were damaged as crews managed to quickly stop the spread of the flames.

"Juvenile fire starter cases are each evaluated on a case-by-case basis," said Munoz. "Our investigation continues, and when the Metro Arson Strike Team investigators are ready they will consult with the District Attorney and a determination will be made as far as the next steps." 

Six engine crews monitored the burn area overnight, and strike teams will be "performing mop up throughout the day" Monday, Munoz said.

"Overnight, there were a few hot spots that crews had to deal with," Munoz said. Among those hot spots, firefighters reported to dispatchers dumping 500 gallons of water on a "smoldering, stubborn" palm tree stump, and another crew reported seeing glowing embers near two homes.

Dispatchers reported that at one point Sunday evening, the fire burned as close as 10 feet from the westbound lanes of I-8 down the hill and across from SDSU's campus, including a stand of palm trees that went up in flames near the College Avenue onramp to westbound I-8. The proximity of the flames prompted California Highway Patrol officers to shut down all westbound traffic on the freeway at state Route 125 until about 10 p.m. Traffic on eastbound I-8 was also closed in the area for a period of time. Overnight, Caltrans San Diego reported that Interstate 8 was re-opened with the final lanes on westbound I-8 from College Ave to Waring Road opened around 2:00 a.m.

San Diego police evacuated about 80 homes that were threatened by the flames, Officer John Buttle said. "Many homes in the area were threatened but not damaged," the officer said.

The mandatory evacuations were lifted around 8 p.m. Sunday, and residents with proof of identification were allowed back into the previously threatened neighborhoods, according to San Diego County emergency officials.

At least three helicopters from the SDFD and Cal Fire San Diego doused the flames from above with water and fire retardants while initially battling the flames.

Update by San Diego Fire Department at 7:20 p.m.

Raw footage of fire courtesy of David Swanson:

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