The Coast News Group
2009 File photo by Richard Masoner

Officials blame target shooting for wildfire east of Escondido

RANCHITA — The smoldering footprint of a wildfire that blackened about 25 open acres in northeastern San Diego County over the weekend was 70 percent contained today, authorities reported.

Target shooters accidentally ignited the blaze near Wilson and Montezuma Valley roads in Ranchita, a rural community 29 miles east of Escondido, about 1 p.m. Sunday, according to Cal Fire.

Ground and airborne personnel fighting the flames amid hot and dry conditions had the spread of the fire halted within about three hours, said Kendal Bortisser, a spokesman for the state agency.

The blaze, dubbed the Wilson Fire, posed no structural threats and caused no reported injuries.

No open flame remained in the area as of this afternoon, though crews continued dousing hot spots, according to Bortisser.

Investigators will determine whether to seek criminal or civil sanctions against the people who sparked the blaze while firing guns on private property near Culp Valley Campground. The responsible parties made an emergency call to report the fire, remained in the area and were cooperative with authorities, Bortisser said.