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On Friday, December 17, at approximately 3:00 pm a fire started in the fallow field at the center of Santee. The fire was on the southern side of the San Diego River nearer Magnolia Boulevard.

The fire was visible, at least 20 feet in height in a tongue, over the trees surrounding the San Diego River, from Rio Seco Elementary. School staff placed a class to 911. The flame extinguished after several minutes and smoked for approximately 20 minutes.

The Santee fire department explains that the fire was catalogued as a small brush fire which went out after the initial conflagration. The weather had been drizzly. The homeless have been known to start small bonfires in the undeveloped space near the river, though no cause was assigned to the minor conflagration.

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