San Diego County: Firefighters battle string of blazes along Interstate 8

Two firefighters were injured today while working to extinguish a string of brush fires along Interstate 8 between Alpine and Pine Valley, which may have been sparked by a vehicle’s faulty catalytic converter.

One firefighter was being treated for heat exhaustion and the other for a possible fractured ankle, Cleveland National Forest spokeswoman Wende Cornelius said.

The fires were in the Cleveland National Forest east of Willows Road, west of Alpine, and the largest was holding at about 15 acres. Three others were quickly contained.

The largest fire was about 20 percent contained as of 2 p.m., she said.

Callers began reporting the fires to the California Highway Patrol around 10:15 a.m., with one initially described as about the size as a vehicle. Smoke was visible from the Border Patrol checkpoint on eastbound Interstate 8 about three miles east of Pine Valley, according to the CHP.

Minutes later, a second fire was reported about two miles to the east of the first, and then a and a third fire was spotted east of the checkpoint. A fourth fire also broke out in the area.

CHP officials said that an overheating catalytic converter on an unknown vehicle may have caused the fires.

Cal Fire crews were assisting those from the Cleveland National Forest to get the upper hand on a fire along the freeway, north of the Pine Valley viewpoint, according to Cal Fire.

Firefighters and the CHP blocked one westbound lane on Interstate 8 near Willows Road, according to the CHP.

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