Thursday, July 11, 2013

Central Zone Strike Team Assists CalFire on the Chariot Fire

Mt Laguna- 

On the afternoon of July 6, 2013, CalFire received reports of a new fire off of Highway S-2 near the Butterfield Ranch. Arriving units found a well established fire burning in some of the most challenging terrain in San Diego County. Burning in the near inaccessible Chariot Canyon area fire crews struggled to make access.  Over the next few hours the terrain driven fire would start making runs upward towards the Cleveland National Forest along Sunrise Highway.

Crews watch as the fire crests the ridge line near Sunrise Highway.
As the fire continued its southward push some important infrastructure found itself threatened. Concerned that the fire could make a significant run towards Mt Laguna fire planners prepared for the worst. A request for strike teams from throughout Southern California was made in anticipation of significant fire growth.. Part of this request was filled by the Central Zone when five brush rigs, and a chief officer, made their way toward the fire in the predawn hours of July 8th.

The upward slope from the desert is evident in this picture. This type of terrain made control difficult.
Units from Lakeside, Santee, Barona, Alpine, and Viejas responded to base camp where they quickly received orders to support operations in the Sunrise Highway area. Crews were sent there because the fire had established itself in an area known as Storm Canyon, and would soon make a hard run towards the pine covered hills around Garnet and Monument Peaks.

While it  looks like the moon now, give Mother Nature some time and see what happens.

A "Dust Devil" makes it way through the burned area. These weather phenomena are problematic as they can carry hot ash into unburned areas. They can also be a sign of unstable weather to come...
The strike team supported a number of operations to stop the fire's progress west of the highway. Crews worked for 24 hours until the following morning when they were relieved by other fire crews. Eventually through hard work, and a little help from mother nature, the forward progress of the fire slowed. Fire planners felt that enough control had been achieved that strike team 6440c could be released. Currently 7055 acres have been consumed and 120 structures have been damaged or destroyed.

CalFire and USFS crews will continue to work this fire for days. The fire is currently being managed in unified command between CalFire and USFS.

Photos By: Fire Engineer Robert Williams, and Probationary Firefighter Kyle Zauss.

View 2013 Incident Map in a larger map


  1. I salute ALL Fire Fighters, after seeing the brave stance that was taken on this fire and the desire to save all structures, I can only take off my hat to them...and give them my utmost admiration and respect.

  2. Thank you is the best I can offer but I mean it with all my heart. I know this fire could have gone crazy and it was the efforts of the firefighters that kept that from happening. Thank you, also, for writing above "...give Mother nature some time and see what happens." Watching the recovery in the Cuyamacas and on the Garnet Peak trail over the years has been deeply inspiring. Thank you again.