SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A wildfire just west of San Diego Zoo Safari Park -- the third to erupt in the area in as many weeks -- prompted evacuations this afternoon and forced the closure of the rural highway that fronts the popular wild-animal exhibition grounds.
The blaze broke out for unknown reasons off state Route 78 and Cloverdale Road in the San Pasqual area shortly before 3 p.m., according to Cal Fire. Sheriff's deputies cleared people out of some homes on San Pasqual Valley Road as ground crews and personnel aboard firefighting aircraft worked to subdue the flames. The nearby zoological tourist attraction, meanwhile, closed early due to the emergency.
Within two hours, the blaze, dubbed the Cloverdale Fire, had grown to about 40 acres, the state agency reported. Authorities blocked off a stretch of SR-78 near the burn area as a safety precaution and to expedite the fire-suppression operations.
In late July, a wildfire blackened an estimated 365 open acres east of the zoo park. Last week, another blaze scorched about 150 acres in the same general area. Neither caused any reported structural damage.
It was unclear what sparked the fires.
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