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By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left, courtesy San Diego Sheriff Office, Alpine


July 6, 2018 (Alpine) – At the Secret Hills Ranch in Alpine, owner Missy Bender posted this  panicked message on Facebook today as the #WestFire approached: “Fire is here desperately need help…”   With 41 horses in need of evacuation, she pleaded for  help “even on foot” adding that the Sheriff wasn’t letting trailers in. “We have to lead horses out on foot,” she said, adding, “We are fighting the fire off our back fence…”

Fortunately, the public responded to posts swiftly forwarded across social media, with many arriving to help brave the flames and evacuate the horses. 

Bender and others at the ranch stayed behind, tamping down hot spots, as this video shows:

By early this evening, Bender posted, “ALL HORSES ARE OUT THANK YOU EVERYONE! Ranch is still standing at this time. 3 sides of our fence has burned but not structures yet and praying it stays that way!”

But others were not so fortunate. A home next door to the Benders burned to the ground.

The historic Campbell Creek Ranch house, which dates to the 1880s and has been a popular venue for weddings and other events, also burned to the ground.

Owner Colin Campbell told  NBC 7 that he and his wife were watching the World Soccer match on TV when the video froze.  Looking outside, they saw a huge cloud of smoke.  “We had 60 seconds maybe,” he said. “We knew immediately we needed to get in our cars and go.”

Photo, left: Campbell Creek Ranch house in flames, courtesy ECM news partner 10 News

As of this evening, Cal Fire reports the fire has burned 400 acres and destroyed “numerous homes.” IT could have been even worse if not for the efforts of multiple fire agencies under joint command of the U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire, with engines from Lakeside, Alpine and other areas assisting as well as SDG&E’s air crane helping to combat the flames.

Over 1400 people were without power in the fire due to power lines that burned, according to the SDG&E website.  As of tonight, power has been restored to all but 28 of those utility customers.

One firefighter is hospitalized with burns to his face and another suffered heat exhaustion, 10 News reports.

According to Cal Fire fire prevention specialist  Julia Martoney, the fire is now 400 acres and 5% contained, with forward spread stopped.

The following road closures are in effect this evening; Interstate 8 is reopened:

-Tavern Rd. at South Gate Rd.

-Alpine Blvd. at Willows Rd.

-Via Viejas at South Grade is closed to East Bound Traffic

-Scenic View at South Grade Rd.

-Tavern Rd. off ramp & West Willow Rd. off ramp closed from both directions

-Arnold Wy. at Tavern Rd.

-Alpine Blvd. at Tavern Rd.

-Eltinge Rd. at South Grade Rd.

-West Victoria at Victoria Cr.