Wildfire News

IN HEATED CPUC HEARING, PUBLIC SPEAKS OUT ON SDG&E PROPOSAL TO CHARGE RATEPAYERS FOR 2007 WILDFIRE COSTS

 

By Rachel Williams

January 12, 2017 (Escondido) -- The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) hosted public hearings on Monday covering SDG&E’s second attempt to charge ratepayers for the utility’s unrecovered losses from California’s 2007 wildfires.

FIRE SURVIVORS' ADVOCATE URGES PUBLIC TO SPEAK AT MONDAY CPUC HEARINGS ON SDG&E PROPOSAL TO CHARGE RATEPAYERS FOR 2007 WILDFIRE COSTS

Hear our KNSJ radio interview with Diane Conklin, Mussey Grade Road Alliance, by clicking the audio link. Conklin estimates cost of SDG&E’s proposal could be $280 per household.

By Miriam Raftery

January 6, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) --In 2012,  a huge turnout by ratepayers helped persuade the California Public Utilities Commission to deny SDG&E’s request to charge ratepayers for its uninsured costs of  three 2007 wildfires.

 Now the utility has revived a similar proposal, seeking $379 million from ratepayers. On Monday, the CPUC will hold public hearings in Escondido at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the California Center for the Arts Escondido conference center, Salon 1Room, 340 North Escondido Blvd. in Escondido.

Advocates for ratepayers and fire survivors are urging the public to again turn out in force at Monday’s hearings, arguing that it would be unfair and set a bad precedent to allow a utility to charge ratepayers for fires caused by its equipment. They say that SDG&E should have foreseen high winds and taken steps to protect the public.   The group estimates average cost per household would be $280 if SDG&E’s proposal is approved.

 But SDG&E contends that  it’s fair to ask ratepayers to help shoulder costs of the fires, which it contends were natural disasters with winds stronger than seen in previous fires.  The company also notes that it has worked to reduce claims and made major investments to improve fire safety for the future.

Audio: 

ALPINE FIRE SWEARS IN TWO BOARD MEMBERS

 

Source: Alpine Fire Dept.

Photos:  District Legal Counsel Steve Fitch administers oath of office to incumbent Alpine Fire Board member Thomas “Jim”  Mann (left) and new member Steve Taylor (right).


December 27, 2016 (Alpine) -- The Alpine Fire Protection District swore-in two Board members at the December 20, 2016 Board meeting.  Incumbent Thomas “Jim” Mann took the oath for his second 4-year term on the Fire Board.  New Board member Steve Taylor was sworn in for a 4-year term as well. Both Board members were the top two vote getters in a 5 person race for two seats on the Fire Board.  Both Board members were sworn in by District Legal counsel Steve Fitch.  Outgoing Board member Mary Fritz did not seek re-election.  Board member Fritz was thanked by staff, the firefighters and her fellow Board members for her many years serving on the Fire Board. 

ROAD HAZARDS ACROSS REGION, SNOW IN MOUNTAINS, FROST WARNING TONIGHT IN URBAN AREAS

 

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

December 24, 2016 (San Diego's East County)--Heavy snow is blanketing Mt. Laguna, with several inches reported in Boulevard.  Snow could dip to 3,000 feet tonight, with frost possible even in urban and suburban areas such as El Cajon and La Mesa tonight and tomorrow, according to forecaster Alex Tardy with the National Weather Service.

The storm, combined with accidents, has resulted in numerous accidents and other road hazards across our region.

SANTEE FIRE RECEIVE LIFE-SAVING EQUIPMENT

 

Source: Santee Fire Department

December 12, 2016 (Santee) — Santee Fire Department officials will express their appreciation to the Firehouse Subs Safety Foundation for providing the city with grant funds for new life-saving equipment at static display of the equipment scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Dec. 16.

SUIT FILED AGAINST U.S. FOREST SERVICE TO PROTECT FORESTS AND SENSITIVE SPECIES ON CALIFORNIA FOREST LANDS FROM FUEL BREAK PLANS

 

East County News Service

December 8, 2016 (Santa Barbara) -- Two conservation organizations have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court to protect fragile habitat and rare species in the path of a massive, remote fuel break recently approved in the Los Padres National Forest. The suit is also an effort to encourage the Los Padres National Forest to focus on reducing fire risk where it matters most, directly in and around communities.

ALPINE FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT RECEIVES GRANT FUNDING FOR NEW RESCUE EQUIPMENT

 

East County News Service

December 7, 2016 (Alpine) –  The Alpine Fire Protection District (AFPD) has been awarded a $35,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) for Rescue Extrication Equipment.  The AFPD will use the funds to purchase modern life-saving equipment capable of safely assisting firefighters in extricating victims trapped in motor vehicle collisions. 

SANTA ANA WINDS FORECAST THURSDAY THROUGH SATURDAY

 

East County Wildfire and Emergency Alerts

November 30, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – A potentially strong Santa Ana weather pattern will develop Thursday evening, bringing strong Santa Ana winds Thursday night through Saturday. Sustained winds of 20-30 miles per hour and gusts over 65 mph are possible in the windiest locations, including Highway 8 in San Diego County from Alpine to the Imperial County border.

SDG&E PLAN TO RECOVER 2007 WILDFIRE COSTS SET FOR CPUC HEARING JAN. 9 IN ESCONDIDO

 

East County News Service

November 16, 2016 (Escondido) — The California Public Utilities Commission will hold public hearings January 9, 2017 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on San Diego Gas & Electric Company’s application for authorization to recover costs related to the 2007 Southern California wildfires recorded in the Wildfire Expense Memorandum Account (WEBA). 

CAL FIRE SLATE WINS 3 OF 4 SEATS IN SAN MIGUEL FIRE BOARD RACE

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 12, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – In July, San Miguel’s Fire Board voted by a slim one-vote margin to cancel its contract with CAL FIRE a year early and go back to being a free-standing district, but kept the action on hold pending outcome of the election.

READER’S EDITORIAL: FIRE TRUCK USED FOR POLITICKING IN SAN MIGUEL FIRE BOARD RACE

 

By Patrick D. Walker, Deputy Vice President—District X,  CAL FIRE Firefighters Local 2881

November 5, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) -- In reference to your article regarding Santee firefighters' use of a fire engine for political action, it should be known that the same is being done in San Miguel.  Those who oppose the CAL FIRE Cooperative Agreement are using an Engine that the District sold to them (Former Local 1434 / San Miguel Firefighters Foundations) for $1 with the clause that it would not be used for political action, well it clearly is.  Not only are they using it for political action (Displaying at local businesses) they are also sharing the images on Social Media and storing the fire engine at a fire station.  See video.  They are also driving the engine around the District with trucks in front and behind supporting the opposition.  From day one they have done everything to sabotage the CAL FIRE Agreement, this is just another example.

HEAR OUR HOT INTERVIEWS: SAN MIGUEL FIRE BOARD CANDIDATES

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 4, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – The future of the San Miguel Fire District hangs in the balance.  Should San Miguel keep its contract with Cal-Fire or return to being a stand-alone district, as the current board recently voted by a slim margin?  We interviewed a representative from  each of the two slates running for our East County Magazine Radio Show on KNSJ. Listen now by clicking the orange audio link.

 In this heated session,  incumbent Bill  Kiel, a retired engineer, makes the case for staying with Cal-Fire, while retired fire chief Kim Raddatz argues for giving Cal-Fire the boot and returning to an independent district.  Each side claims their position will be best for taxpayers and public safety.  One side is backed by Cal-Fire firefighters, the other by leaders of the former San Miguel firefighters.

Audio: 

I-805 RAMP TO 52 EAST CLOSED FOR EMERGENCY REPAIR

 

On Wednesday, November 2, 2016, Caltrans requested an emergency road closure for bridge repairs to be done on the transition road from southbound I-805 to eastbound SR-52.

Beginning immediately, the transition from southbound I-805 to eastbound SR-52 is closed to allow Caltrans to conduct their work.  The transition road is expected to be re-opened tonight around 2000 hours.

SAN DIEGO REGIONAL FIRE FOUNDATION AWARDS $280,000 TO LOCAL FIRE AGENCIES

 

Source: San Diego Fire Foundation

October 27, 2016 (San Diego) - During this year’s Fire Prevention Week, the San Diego Regional Fire Foundation presented grant checks to a dozen local fire agencies at open house events around the county.

“These grants enable fire departments to obtain needed fire and medical/rescue equipment and to provide training to ensure our firefighters can deliver the highest level of service to all San Diego County communities,” said Fire Foundation Chairman Frank Ault.  “Each year, we receive specific requests from agencies targeted for their individual needs.”

DESCANSO RANGER DISTRICT TO BEGIN PRESCRIBED BURN ACTIVITIES

 

East County News Service

October 27, 2016 (Descanso) -- The Descanso Ranger District in Alpine will be conducting prescribed burn activities beginning in October through May 2017, provided weather and fuel moisture conditions permit. Prescribed burns are scheduled to take place in Pine Valley and Mount Laguna, with some work being done around Horsethief rd. The project will cover approximately 500 – 700 acres with the potential for smoke visibility along Sunrise Highway, Japatul Rd and Interstate 8.

EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE WINS AWARDS FOR COVERAGE OF BORDER FIRE, COVERT CANYON AND IRAQI IMMIGRANT ISSUES

 

East County News Service

October 27, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) -- East County Magazine editor Miriam Raftery picked up three awards in San Diego Press Club’s 2016 Excellence in Journalism Awards competition.

Our entry titled “Border Fire Leaves Residents Burned Over Bureaucratic Bungling” won the Wildcard category; this year the wildcard topic was “life on the border.”  Our media outlet beat out media in all categories for this prestigious award including TV, radio, newspapers and magazines countywide.

BRUSH FIRE IN ELCAJON

 

Photo credit:  Dave Nunes

October 24, 2016 (El Cajon) -- A SIG Alert has been issued for I-8 east due to a two-acre brush fire burning alongside the freeway just east of Greenfield in unincorporated El Cajon. The fire is burning uphill toward the Wal-Mart store, according to the CHP incident page.

ECM has a reporter en route to the scene; check back for details.

DUELING SLATES VIE FOR SAN MIGUEL FIRE BOARD: ALL 9 CANDIDATES SPEAK OUT AT HEATED CANDIDATE FORUM IN CREST

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 20, 2016 (Crest) – The stakes are high in the San Miguel Fire Board race. In July, the board majority voted to axe a contract that outsourced firefighting to Cal Fire, entered into back when property tax revenues had plummeted in the recession and the district had shut down a fire station.  Now four candidates want to undo the recent vote and keep the deal with Cal Fire, while four others are running to restore local control.  The ninth candidate says he hasn’t made up his mind.  There are four seats up for grabs.

All nine appeared at a candidate forum tonight in Crest, a town that burned in the 2003 fires and where residents pay a higher assessment for fire services than any other fire district locally.

CHIEF’S CORNER: A DEDICATION AND REMINDER THAT SANTA ANA WINDS ARE COMING!

 

 

Dedicated to the Men of Engine Company 57

“I can’t believe it’s been 10 years. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was home in Orange County leaving for work in Los Angeles. I could see the large plume of smoke to the east. In a matter of moments it intensified. The plumb expanded and rose quickly into the atmosphere. I knew something went bad. I didn’t think it was this bad… Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna”

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

October 17, 2016 (San Diego) -- October 26th 2006, 1:11 a.m. Santa Ana winds stirred across the southland.

A Red Flag warning had been identified and was in effect. A high probability for large fire growth was in effect as conditions were high temperatures, low humidity, and Santa Ana winds.

MEET THE CANDIDATES FOR SAN MIGUEL FIRE BOARD

 

East County News Service

October 17, 2016 (Crest) — The Crest Fire Safe Council invites you to meet candidates running for San Miguel Fire Board at the Crest Community Clubhouse (113 North Park Road in the Crest community of unincorporated El Cajon) on Wednesday, October 19 at 7 p.m.

CHIFE’S CORNER: FIRE PREVENTION WEEK

 

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

October 11, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) -- Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on October 8, but continued into and did most of its damage on October 9, 1871.

OFFICIALS MEET WITH POTRERO RESIDENTS ON BORDER FIRE CONCERNS

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 6, 2016 (Potrero)—Supervisor Dianne Jacob convened a meeting at the Potrero Library on September 27th ,  where officials from Cal Fire, the Sheriff’s department,County Animal Services and the Office of Emergency Services responded to concerns raised by residents during the Border Fire.

Verizon, AT&T and SDG&E were also on hand with information on communications issues and power outages.

LAST DOG BELONGING TO BORDER FIRE VICTIMS FINDS ADOPTIVE HOME

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 4, 2016 (Potrero) – “Finally! Kendrick was the last of the dogs at our shelter in Bonita which were rescued from the Border Fire in Potrero in June, “San Diego Animal Services posted on Facebook yesterday.

According to Animal Services, “The young man in the photo met Kendrick a few weeks ago and couldn't get him off his mind. His mom said if they came back on Saturday (October 1st) and Kendrick was still here, he could have him for his birthday which is this week. Kendrick hit it off with this family right away and was happy to leave with them today! His new family is going to take him on lots of hikes on the trail near their home!”

7.0 EARTHQUAKE POSSIBLE IN NEXT FEW DAYS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

 

East County News Service

September 30,2016 (San Diego) –Following a swarm of recent small magnitude earthquakes that began on Monday near the Salton Sea in Southern California, the California Office of Emergency Services (OES) has issued an advisory that there is a small chance that an earthquake measuring 7.0 or  more on the Richter scale could occur on the San Andreas fault before October 4.

The advisory warning includes San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, Los Angeles, Kern , Imperial and Ventura counties.

ALPINE FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT TO BOLSTER FIRE PREVENTION EFFORTS WITH FM GLOBAL GRANT

 

Source:  Fire Chief Bill F. Paskle, Fire Chief,  Alpine Protection District

Photo: By AFPD.  FM Global’s Jay Koo presents a plaque to Alpine Fire Protection District Fire Chief Bill Paskle.  Left to Right, AFPD Fire Chief Bill Paskle, Jay Koo from FM Global, AFPD Fire Marshal Jason McBroom.

September 21, 2016  (Alpine)
The Alpine Fire Protection District has received a $2,194 fire prevention grant from FM Global, one of the world’s largest commercial property insurers.

INTERNAL INVESTIGATION INTO DEPUTIES' ACTIONS AFTER BORDER FIRE FIND “NO VIOLATIONS”; CITIZENS VOICE ANGER

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Nadin Abbott, Reporting San Diego;Volunteer searchers combed burned property where two bodies were located after Sheriff's declined to search hills behind couple's home

September 18, 2016  (San Diego’s East County)—Campo resident Claudia Millerbragg  asked the Sheriff’s Department on July 2nd  to launch an internal investigation into what she and other residents described as  rude unprofessional treatment by Sheriff’s officials.  She says three other residents also spoke with the internal affairs

Frustrating by deputies’ lack of response to citizens’ concerns about two missing people after the Border Fire, Millerbragg was present with other local women who launched their own search and within 10 minutes,  found bodies of the missing couple huddled between boulders behind their home.

Now a  Sheriff’s internal investigation  into the matter has closed, with a disposition of “unfounded” in part and “exonerated” in part. The finding has left residents frustrated over the apparent lack of resolution of their concerns.

FIRE IN CUYAMACA

Update 3 p.m.:  Forward spread is stopped at six acres; fire is 25% contained, per Cal Fire.

Update 2:45 p.m.: Cal Fire reports the fire is now six acres and that crews are making good progress.

By Miriam Raftery

September 18, 2016 (Cuyamaca Rancho State Park)--1:30 p.m.--A brush fire is burning in the Cuyamaca  Area, multiple sources confirm. A post at WildlandFire.com, a firefighters' discussion forum, indicates the fire started at Harrison Park Road and State Route 79,  burning at least three to five acres so far and moving into timber. 

An air tanker is dropping retardant and two structures are threatened,the post indicates, though there is no official confirmation yet of structure threat.

A caller to ECM reported smoke in the area.  In addition,Trevor Rathfon tweeted a photo ofsmoke behind Lake Cuyamaca indicated,"Fire season has officialy begun."

If you have details on this fire please contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org.

READER’S EDITORIAL: WHY DID THE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT REPORT MEETINGS WITH RESIDENTS WHEN NONE HAVE OCCURRED?

 

By Jan Hedlun, Potrero resident

Note:  Hedlun sent this on Sept. 14 to San Diego Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Boudreau, with copies to Supervisor Dianne Jacob and ECM.  She’s granted permission to run this as an open letter/reader’s editorial.

Re:  Regional Fire Safe Council Meeting/Potrero

September 16, 2016 (Potrero) -- My name is Jan Hedlun and I am a Potrero resident and an elected member of the Potrero Community Planning Group. I was speaking to Bob Buerer who attended the recent Regional Fire Safe Council meeting on Thursday, September 8th who told me something deeply disturbing.

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