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Brush fire destroys, damages 30 homes near San Diego

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A brush fire southeast of San Diego near the Mexican border has burned about 2,000 acres and destroyed or damaged 30 homes and at least 15 outbuildings in the area, NBC San Diego reported Monday, citing California fire officials.

The fire was sparked around noon on Sunday and was moving rapidly eastward, the officials said. Firefighters had the blaze 10 percent contained by Monday morning, but windy conditions were expected to make progress difficult. Some 80 homes remain threatened.

Evacuations are in place for several neighborhoods along the Interstate 8 near the Campo Indian Reservation in East San Diego County.

At least 600 firefighters from Cal Fire, the U.S. Forest Service, Indian reservation fire departments and agencies throughout the county were battling the fire, UT San Diego reported Monday afternoon. Cal Fire reported there were 57 engines, nine crews, six air tankers and six helicopters are at the scene, the report said.

Authorities have not confirmed any deaths or injuries from the fire.

However, people who lived along Tierra del Sol Road where most of the homes were destroyed said they were worried about an elderly neighbor who had not been accounted for, the UT report said. The man's pickup was still in front of his burned down home.

Red Cross officials turned a high school gym in the nearby community of Pine Valley into a shelter for evacuees and a casino just north of the evacuated area was being used as a command center.

Ranchers Bob and Laura Gooken considered evacuating with their 28 Clydesdale horses, but it was too late.

"When it came over here across the road, it was right there and we thought about it we can't leave so we decided to stick it out," Bob Gooken told NBC San Diego.

"We just held our breath and got very, very lucky, we're very fortunate," said his wife, Laura.

The fire’s path is in a desolate rural area where many of the buildings are vacant, according to Cal Fire spokesperson Mike Moehler.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Meanwhile, firefighters had contained about 40 percent of a separate fire in Riverside County, Calif., The Associated Press reported.

The 150-acre blaze had mainly been reduced to embers and hot spots by Monday morning, firefighters said, but as many as 200 homes were still in its path in rocky, brushy terrain that hadn't burned in decades.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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