Fire crews extinguish nearby blazes in Sorrento Valley, Carmel Valley; no structures damaged

Fire crews made quick work of two small brush fires that erupted Wednesday evening, Nov. 14, a few hundred yards apart from each other in Sorrento Valley and Carmel Valley, fire officials said.

The first blaze, which investigators believe was sparked by pieces of a catalytic converter, was reported about 5:10 p.m. at Calle Cristobal and Camino Sante Fe near Sorrento Valley Boulevard, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokeswoman Mónica Muñoz said.

The area is about 1.5 miles east of Interstate 5, just north of the northbound merge with Interstate 805.

A helicopter responded to fight the blaze and reported multiple small spot fires along the side of the road, Muñoz said.

One of the engine crews that was at the scene reported a similar small fire that started near the same location and around the same time on Tuesday, Nov. 13, Muñoz said. Investigators believe that blaze was also likely sparked by pieces of a catalytic converter.

Wednesday’s small cluster of fires was at least 50 yards away from any homes, and the helicopter extinguished the flames from the air, Muñoz said.

About 20 minutes after the first report of flames, firefighters discovered a second small blaze at Carmel Mountain Road and Canter Heights Drive in Carmel Valley, just a few hundred yards across a brush-filled canyon from the initial flames, Muñoz said.

“It’s also a vegetation fire and a crew just arrived and reported that there are structures threatened,” Muñoz said in an initial statement. “It’s heavy fuel with a slow rate of spread at this time.”

Around 5:55 p.m., crews reported that they’d stopped the progress of the second fire and held it to about one acre, Muñoz said. The structures that were initially threatened were not damaged.

The cause of the second fire was not known Wednesday night.

By about 6:15 p.m., both incidents were under control and crews had entered the mop-up stage, according to a tweet from the Fire Department. It was not clear how large the first cluster of fires was.

The blazes erupted just minutes after the National Weather Service’s red flag warning signaling critical fire danger had expired at 5 p.m.

Throughout the period of heightened fire danger, which began over the weekend, the Department had staffed extra brush engines in preparation for the warm temperatures, low humidity levels and strong Santa Ana winds.

--Alex Riggins is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune