Got the alert on the PulsePoint app, went "holy crap, that's a mile away!", grabbed my 80-200mm zoom, and bailed.
I could already see the visibly thickening plume of smoke before I even shut the door behind me. Managed to get in before any road closures (Interstate 8 was eventually shut down over a mile in each direction!), and arrived right as the last of the first alarm units pulled in.
Apparently the first photographer to get up to the edge of the canyon, I got some killer shots of the SDFD and Heartland crews setting up their structure protection operations. Within five minutes of getting there I saw the fire spread probably half a mile or better, with the wind scattering embers hundreds of feet away.
At one point, I ended up helping a stretch a hose line to knock down a spot fire that flared up about 50 feet from the back yards of the homes. Then came the air drops. SDFD, SD Sheriff, and SDG&E all had their helicopters pulling water from Lake Murray and provided non-stop water bombing salvos – so close, I was getting misted!
Hats off to our professionals who saved all the houses up on the hilltop this afternoon!