Flames Erupt by Southbound I-5 in San Ysidro

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A fire broke out early this morning near the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 in the South Bay, prompting firefighters and highway patrol officers to shut down all southbound lanes just a little north of the U.S.-Mexico border for about two hours, authorities said.

The worst flames from the non-injury blaze erupted about 5:05 a.m. off the west side of the freeway near Dairy Mart Road in San Ysidro, California Highway Patrol public-affairs Officer Tommy Doerr said. But fire officials believe the blaze may have actually started on the east side of the freeway, and then moved to the opposite side through a dry drainage ditch running under the interstate.

The first crews to arrive at the scene reported finding a roughly 20- foot-by-20-foot blaze scorching thick, nearly inaccessible vegetation just off the west shoulder of the freeway, a firefighter told a dispatcher.

``It's heavy brush that was burning,'' San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokeswoman Monica Munoz said. ``The total is about a half-acre burned ... They stopped the forward rate of spread about 6 a.m.''

Because the flames were hard to access and growing, the initial crew requested support, and by about 5:30 a.m., officials dispatched a helicopter, several engines, a brush rig, a water tender and other fire crews and vehicles, according to an SDFD incident log. The helicopter was unable to aid in the fight because of low clouds.

Firefighters gathered on the southbound freeway lanes to battle the blaze and requested the CHP to shut down all southbound lanes, Doerr said. Initially, the far left lane remained open, allowing cars to pass, but by 5:45 a.m., all vehicles were being detoured off the freeway at Dairy Mart Road.

A single lane on the southbound side reopened a few minutes before 8 a.m. The cause of the blaze was not immediately known, but no vehicles were believed to be involved, Doerr said.

Photo: Getty Images

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