Chariot Fire Destroyed Shriners' Campground

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July 11, 2013 by   - () Leave a Comment

The picnic area and lodge hall at Al Bahr Mount Laguna Shrine Camp near Julian, Calif. The lodge and many other buildings at the Shriner camp have been destroyed by the Chariot Fire.

Nearly 2,150 firefighters are gaining ground on a Southern California back country wildfire that has blackened 7,055 acres and destroyed an estimated 120 structures, most of them campground cabins in the Mount Laguna area east of San Diego.

The Chariot Fire broke out for unknown reasons just before 1 p.m. Saturday (July 6) near Chariot Mountain and Butterfield Ranch, KFMB-TV, San Diego, reported

By Wednesday evening (July 10), the smoldering remnants of the four-day-old blaze near Mount Laguna were roughly 65% surrounded, according to Cal Fire, which predicted full containment by Sunday.

The state firefighting agency also reported that the fire has destroyed an estimated 120 structures, many of them campground cabins, and left five firefighters with heat exhaustion and other minor injuries. An additional 120 residences were threatened as of Tuesday evening, according to Cal Fire.

The American Red Cross has been running an emergency shelter for the displaced residents and campers at Joan MacQueen Middle School on Tavern Road in Alpine.

Meanwhile,The Associated Press reported that Shriner's International officials said the fire near the town of Julian destroyed the lodge, dining hall and all but about a dozen of 116 cabins on Monday at Al Bahr Mount Laguna Shrine Camp. A Sierra Club lodge across the road also burned.

"It's absolutely heartbreaking," Shriner Donald Wierman told U-T San Diego.

The camp, located 60 miles east of San Diego in the Cleveland National Forest, was leased from forestry officials in 1921. It is at an elevation of 6,000 feet and hosts recreational vehicles with water and electrical hook-ups, according to its website.

About 30 people were evacuated from cabins and campgrounds earlier this week.

The small cabins provided modest accommodations to Shriners on vacation, and some came equipped with bunk beds and wet bars. The camp's website boasts views of the Salton Sea and the surrounding mountains.


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