Wildfire News

NOT ENOUGH WATER IN LAKE MORENA TO FIGHT BORDER FIRE, RESIDENTS SAY

 

“Precious moments were lost and that caused the fire to get out of control…Lives have been lost that may have been saved if they had been able to get water out of Lake Morena and not burned 6,000 acres in less than 12 hours.”—Karen McIntyre, Campo

By Miriam Raftery

Photos: Karen McIntyre displays photos of Lake Morena before and after the City of San Diego drained away over 97% of the water.

July 8, 2016 (Campo)—At a heated meeting of the Campo-Lake Morena Community Planning Group,  residents vented anger over the loss of homes and lives during the Border Fire.  Some fault the City of San Diego for draining Lake Morena, claiming lack of water delayed firefighting aircraft responses.

The residents are demanding changes—and some are talking about legal remedies to take back control of their local water supply.

POTRERO RESIDENTS SEEK HELP TO SHELTER IN PLACE, ORGANIZE TO AID NEIGHBORS IN FUTURE FIRES

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 6, 2016 (Potrero) –“How do we move forward now?”  Robert Buerer(photo,left), leader of the Potrero  Community Emergency Response (CERT) Team asked at  a Potrero Foundation disaster preparedness meeting on Saturday, July 3 in the aftermath of the Border Fire.

He wants to expand a Neighbor to Neighbor program that’s arisen out of Neighborhood Watch.   Each neighborhood would have a team leader and phone tree to spread word about alerts and evacuation notices to  neighbors.  To prevent a recurrence of the tragic loss of a couple trapped during the Border Fire with a broken-down vehicle, the program would enable neighbors to learn if someone needs help to evacuate or find a haven for those who choose to shelter in place.

MEMORIAL PLANNED JULY 10 FOR COUPLE WHO DIED IN BORDER FIRE

 

 

By  Miriam Raftery

Update July 6, 2016:  The Medical Examiner has confirmed the identity of James Peter Keefe,53 and also confirmed that the second body is that of his wife,but has not released her full name pending efforts to locate her relatives in Canada.

Memorial fund established for Jim and Kyrie Keefe

July 3, 2016 (Potrero) –A memorial service is planned for July 10th at 11 a.m. to commemorate Jim Keefe and his wife, Kyrie.  The service will be held at 28020 State Route 94 in Potrero,  the site where the young couple lived.  Bodies believed to be theirs were found by volunteer searchers among boulders 50 to 70 yards behind their home after the Border Fire.

“Let’s get together to honor them, talk to each other about what happened that tragic day, and salute two wonderful people who brightened our lives and made us smile. See their art, tell some stories on the mic, hear some music, walk the property, cry, hug,and laugh,” Claudia Millerbragg posted on the Potrero Town page on Facebook, adding that people should bring chairs.

BRUSH FIRE IN DULZURA SHUTS DOWN HIGHWAY 94

 

East County News Service

July 3, 2016 (Dulzura) -- State Route 94 is shut down in both directions from Barrett Lake in Dulzura to State Route 188 due to a brush fire,according to Cal Trans.  The Barrett Fire is now 10 acres, Cal Fire reports.

The CHP website indicates the fire began when a motorcycle accident ignited dry brush.

READER’S EDITORIAL: “GREAT DEAL OF NOTIFICATION” TO PUBLIC ON SAN MIGUEL FIRE DISTRICT BOARD PLANS TO WEIGH STAND-ALONG CONTRACT FOR FIRE SERVICES

 

Board member responds to Robert Perry's editorial: Discussion and possible vote July 6

Photo: Large crowd at a prior SMF meeting on financial issues prior to the contract with Cal Fire

By Theresa McKenna,  Board Member, San Miguel Fire Protection District

As I relayed in my phone conversation with Mr. Perry recently, I personally believe there has been a great deal of notification to the public on this specific topic.  In fact, significantly more notice has been given to the Community than was ever made by the prior Board that voted to contract out fire suppression services.

READER’S EDITORIAL: SAN MIGUEL FIRE TO VOTE JULY 6 ON SPLITTING WITH CAL FIRE: PUBLIC INPUT NEEDED

 

 

Update:  San Miguel Fire Protection District board member Theresa McKenna has responded to Robert Perry's editorial to detail how much notice and discussion has been held on this issue. Read her remarks here.

By Robert Perry, community resident

Photo:  Protest at station closed due to budget gaps back when San Miguel was a stand-alone station, before contracting with Cal Fire. Opinions ran hot on both sides of the partnership deal at that time.

July 2, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) --With zero public input and zero community discussion (thus far) the San Miguel Fire Protection District has an action item on the agenda for the board meeting of July 6, 2016 to "discuss and may approve returning to a stand alone District".  View agenda.

The district has contracted with CAL FIRE the past four years after facing a structural deficit of their own making.  There is one more year of the contract.

BORDER FIRE SURVIVORS SHARE CONCERNS, OUTRAGE AT MEETING WITH SUPERVISOR JACOB, FIRE AND SHERIFF OFFICIALS

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 30, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – Emotions ran high at a community meeting on Border Fire issues convened by Supervisor Dianne Jacob this morning at the Barrett Junction Café in Dulzura.

 Rural residents praised efforts of firefighters, but voiced frustrations and pointed criticisms over problems that arose including lack of adequate care for animals in the evacuated areas and at shelters. communications failures, and inadequate help to locate a missing couple found dead yesterday by volunteer searchers in Potrero.

Jacob  converted a  previously planned coffee with the community event into a forum for the public to air concerns and for officials to respond.  Representatives from Cal Fire and the Sheriff’s Department turned out, but Animal Services did not.  “Not being here is not a good thing,” Jacob said of Animal Services, adding that she has heard many complaints from rural residents about both Animal Services and the Sheriff’s Department.

EMERGENCY MEETING ALERT: BORDER FIRE SURVIVORS -THURS 8 AM AT BARRETT CAFE

 

June 29, 2016 (Barrett Junction)--Supervisor Dianne Jacob has pulled together an emergency meeting in response to all the concerns raised by Border Fire survivors. The meeting will be held at 8:30 a.m. at the BarrettCafe, 1020 Barrett Lake Road in Dulzura.

A note from her office states: "She will be there with Fire Officials, Sheriff's Department, Office of Emergency Services, Animal Services, BLM, Border Patrol to listen to residents' concerns andanswer questions. This meeting was scheduled already. Sup Jacob has quickly reformed it to include the very people who need to hear from residents there on the ground.  She is well aware of the concerns you've shared with her office."

BORDER FIRE CLAIMS HOME OF SOLDIER KILLED IN IRAQ WAR

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 29, 2016 (Potrero) -- The  Border Fire destroyed five homes, ravaging lives and memories.  In Potrero, one of the families whose home burned had already suffered a devastating loss. 

Their son, Army Sgt. Brud Cronkrite,  was killed in Karbala, Iraq, when a rocket-propelled grenade was fired into a nearby building while he was on a security patrol during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004. He was born and raised in Potrero, before joining the Army and deploying first to Kuwait, then Iraq. He was 22 years old when he lost his life in service to his country.

TWO BODIES FOUND IN POTRERO ON PROPERTY BURNED BY BORDER FIRE WHERE INJURED DOG WAS FOUND

 

Update:  The Medical Examiner's office has identified the bodies found as Jim and Kyrie Keefe, who died of heat-related injuries.

By Miriam Raftery

June 29, 2016 (Potrero) – Two bodies have been found in a rocky crevasse in Potrero by volunteer community members who organized a search this morning, multiple sources have informed East County Magazine. 

The bodies were found at a site burned by the Border Fire, 10 days after the blaze began, Reporting San Diego’s Nadin Abbott, first media at the scene, and Deerhorn Valley Antler Editor Kim Hamilton both confirmed.

The bodies have not yet been identified,  but were found during a search for Jim Keefe, known as “Barefoot Jim” and  his wife or girlfriend who neighbors knew as “Kyrie.”   As ECM reported last night, neighbors launched the search themselves, voicing frustration that their repeated efforts to get help from a Sheriff’s official for days failed to lead to a serious search of the property and vicinity.

“Spent 15 minutes and picked up smell,” Hamilton told ECM in an e-mail. “Located bodies on hillside tucked into a pocket in the boulders. Exactly what has ben communicated to sheriffs from the beginning.”

COUPLE MISSING AFTER BORDER FIRE; CONCERNED NEIGHBORS LAUNCH SEARCH WEDNESDAY MORNING

 

Update June 29, 2016  -- Volunteer searchers have found two bodies between rocks on a hill behind the home where Jim and Kylie Keef lived.  A positive identification is pending the County Medical Examiner's exam. For details,view our article: http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/two-bodies-found-potrero-property-burn...

A memorial fund to also help care for their dogs has been established here:  https://www.gofundme.com/2c2et997

By Miriam Raftery

June 28,2016 (Potrero)—“Barefoot Jim” Keefe and his wife, Kyrie, have not been seen since the Border Fire scorched their property on June 19th

Several dogs were rescued days ago from the blaze  including a dog with burned paws dubbed “Little Joe” after 10 News reporter Joe Little, who helped in the rescue.  According to neighbors, other dogs have died and additional dogs are still running loose.  Friends say the couple would not have abandoned their dogs and voiced concerns that their aqua van with painted flames –the couple’s only known vehicle--was also still at the site, just eight inches from the fire’s scorch marks, along with their trailer.

They fear the couple may have set off on foot or perhaps tried to take shelter in caves on or her their property, and that they may have perished from the fire.

COUNTY TAKES ACTION TO WAIVE FEES FOR BORDER FIRE SURVIVIORS TO REBUILD, ALSO PROVIDE BINS FOR DEBRIS

 

East County News Service

Photo: Day 2 of the Border Fire, Cal-Fire

June 28,2016 (San Diego) -- The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to help those who lost homes or buildings in the Border Fire. The County will waive fees for building permits and plan-check reviews. 

Fees will only be waived for structures that were legally permitted originally, prior to the fire. The Board’s Tuesday action would also distribute trash bins to people in the fire areas to help them clear debris.

The Border Fire started June 19th and over the past 10 days has charred over 7,600 acres, destroyed five homes and 11 outbuildings. CAL FIRE reported Tuesday that the Border fire, which grew to 7,609 acres, was 92 percent contained.

“It’s an absolute tragedy for anyone who has lost everything,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob, whose district includes the Potrero, Campo and Lake Morena communities ravaged by the Border Fire.

READER’S EDITORIAL: BORDER FIRE SURVIVOR ASKS SUPERVISOR JACOB AND AGENCIES TO HOLD TOWN HALL MEETING ON FIRE ISSUES IN THE AREAS THAT BURNED

 

By Jan Hedlun

Potrero Resident and Wildfire Survivor

June 28, 2016 (Potrero) --I have heard that local and government agencies involved in the Border Fire are already patting themselves on the back, saying they handled everything perfectly without having sat down with community members for input.  I notice they are holding meetings to tell each other what a good job they’ve done; meetings that most of us recovering from the wildfire did not hear about and could not get to.

I just saw on a Facebook post that today the San Diego County Board of Supervisors are going to “chat about how to provide assistance to victims of the fire at their meeting today." * Chat? Didn’t they have a multitude of meetings after the Cedar (2003), Harris and Witch Fires (2007) that dealt will these topics?  Didn’t they come out with resolutions back then?

I’ve not heard from anyone that Supervisor Jacobs or other authorities have been out here to ask people face-to-face what happened and what could be improved upon. Don’t you think they would want to know all the facts from the people that were involved before holding all these self-congratulatory meetings?

TRUCK CARRYING CRANE HITS OVERPASS ON 67

 

June 28, 2016 – 4:30 p.m. – A truck carrying a crane has reportedly struck the overpass bridge on State Route 67 southbound at Prospect Avenue in El Cajon and is stuck, according to the CHP incident page.  Lanes are blocked and a fuel spill has reportedly occurred.

A bridge supervisor is en route.  We recommend avoiding this area.  

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: THE AFTERMATH OF THE BORDER FIRE

 

By Jose A. Alvarez, County of San Diego Communications Office

June 27, 2016 (Potrero/Campo) - The Border Fire started Sunday, June 19. Since then, it has burned more than 7,000 acres, destroyed five homes and 11 structures. These images, taken on June 23 in the Potrero and Campo communities, show the aftermath and the efforts taking place to help residents get back to their lives.

 

View the full gallery at http://www.countynewscenter.com/the-aftermath-of-the-border-fire/ and scroll down for highlights.

BORDER FIRE 90% CONTAINED; 9 FIRES BURN STATEWIDE

 

East County News Service

June 27, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) -- Over 5,200 firefighters are battling nine large wildfires in California, Cal Fire advises. While the Border Fire in San Diego’s East County is now 80% contained after burning 7,609 acres, other major wildfires are scorching areas across California.

The largest is the Erskine Fire in Kern County, which has charred over 45,000 acres and is now 40% contained, though evacuation orders remain in place. Several new fires broke out yesterday during high temperatures and low humidity.

Below are the latest updates on fires statewide, with links to full details.

CHIEF’S CORNER: IT’S HOT, IT’S DRY, IT’S THE 4TH OF JULY—THE FIRE DEPT. NEEDS YOUR HELP!

 

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

June 27, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) -- It’s hot, it’s dry, it’s the 4th of July! These words make fire officials cringe, says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. It will be a long three-day 4th of July weekend and the fire department needs your help!

SDG&E DRAWS PRAISE FOR SWIFT RESPONSE TO OUTAGES DURING FIRE

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 25, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – During the Border Fire, SDG&E rapidly mobilized resources that have been substantially beefed up since prior firestorms—getting electricity back on swiftly in burned-out communities sweltering in triple-digit heat.  For many rural residents,electricity also powers wells that provide water in and in some cases, equipment burned. 

But as of this morning, power has been fully restored in all areas impacted by the fire,according to SDG&E’s outage map.

“The SDG&E crews have been amazing. They have not stopped since the fire swept through,” Potrero resident Jan Hedlun writes. “They have a camp up next to the Potrero Community Church and are working, working, working. The rate of speed they took to get most of us hooked up is wondrous. I watched them using a helicopter to move the poles over the ridge. Well coordinated crews.”

HELP NEEDED FOR RESIDENTS AND ANIMALS IN CAMPO, LAKE MORENA

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  Rapture's Horse Rescue joined efforts led by Deerhorn Valley Antler editor Kim Hamilton with help from local community members and businesses to bring supplies to Potrero

June 25, 2016 (Campo/LakeMorena) – With the Border Fire now 70% contained, relief efforts continue.  Shontel Grivno at Rapture’s Horse Rescue Foundation sent us the following e-mail this morning asking for supplies of non-perishable foods, water  propane and animal feed for fire survivors, livestock and pets in the Campo/Lake Morena communities:

BORDER FIRE 45% CONTAINED; EVACUATION SHELTER CLOSES FRIDAY

By Miriam Raftery

June 24, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – This morning Cal-Fire reports that the Border Fire is 45% contained after scorching 7,483 acres.  Five homes and 11 outbuildings were destroyed. 

The evacuation shelter at Los Coches Creek Middle School in El Cajon is closing today. All evacuated areas are now reopened, however some road closures remain in effect.  View full details from Cal Fire at: https://twitter.com/CALFIRESANDIEGO/status/746347587112828928

Appreciate our alerts?  Please donate to help us continue keeping you safe and informed during emergencies!  Click here to make a donation or a monthly pledge to help sustain our East County Alerts and wildfire  news reporting: http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/donate

RESIDENTS HEAR UPDATES ON BORDER FIRE, THANK FIREFIGHTERS AND VOICE SOME CONCERNS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: County Fire Chief Gary Croucher

June 23, 2016 (El Cajon) --At a community meeting Thursday night at the Los Coches Creek Elementary School in El Cajon, fire officials gave a briefing on steps they took to battle the Border Fire, which since Sunday has burned close to 7,400 acres, destroying 5 homes and 11 outbuildings.  

Residents voiced gratitude toward firefighters for  valiant efforts to save homes and lives, also acknowledging much that has improved since the 2003 and 2007 firestorms thanks to better investments in firefighting equipment and technology.

But some voiced concerns over areas they hope to see improved-- notably helping children and young teens forced to evacuate when parents were away at work, slow communications early on about the fire’s progress, animals lacking food and water in the evacuation zone, and inadequate water at Lake Morena for firefighting aircraft due to the city of San Diego draining the reservoir too low.

TACTICAL FIRING NEAR POTRERO

Source: Cal Fire

June 23, 2016 (Potrero) Tactical firing Operations are being conducted above the north east corner of the Border 3 Fire., Cal Fire advises.

These firing operations are one of the many tools used to stop and or slow down the spread of large fires. The firing operation, along with direct perimeter control efforts, will continue throughout the day and night until the objective has been met.

UPDATED ROAD CLOSURES IN BORDER FIRE

 

 

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

June 23, 2016 (San Diego's East County) -- Cal Fire and the County Office of Emergency Services have released the following updates on new and contining road closures due to the Border Fire.  Also, a large plume of smoke visible this afternoon is due largely to a backfire lit to protect communities.

Below is the latest info on road closures:

LAKE MORENA, CAMPO STILL THREATENED; COMMUNITY MEETING TONIGHT ON BORDER FIRE ISSUES

5 homes lost

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Facebook post by Kerra Elizabeth McAhren

June 23, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – This morning, the Border Fire is now 20% contained and has scorched 6,8450 acres as over 1,900 firefighters battle the blaze.  Five homes (of which 3 were secondary homes on the same property) and eleven outbuildings were destroyed, while one other home was damaged, Cal Fire confirms. Residents on the Campo-Lake Morena Neighborhood Watch page on Facebook have been posting eyewitness accounts, photos and videos as well as thank you messages for firefighters at https://www.facebook.com/groups/345408365593244/.

There will be a community meeting at the Los Coches Creek Middle School located at 9669 Dunbar Ln., El Cajon, CA at 7:00 pm today hosted by the Cal Fire IncidentManagement Team with an update on the Border Fire.  Representatives from agencies managing and supporting the incident as well as local dignitaries will provide a briefing and answer questions.  Public inquiries regarding the Community Meeting or Fire Information, please call 2-1-1.

“The fire still remains a threat to the communities of Lake Morena Village, Campo as well as the outlying recreational assets as the fire continues to move north and northeast. This is still a dynamic and active fire, residents in the surrounding area of the fire should continue to be prepared to evacuate if need be,” Cal Fire’s latest update reads.

FIVE HOMES LOST IN BORDER FIRE; BLAZE 20% CONTAINED

East County News Service

 

June 22, 2016, 8 p.m. (San Diego's East County ) -- Cal Fire reports that the Border Fire is 6,723 acres and 20 percent contained. Five homes total were destroyed; two of the homes were primary dwelling units and three homes were second dwelling units/guest houses. No information is avalable yet on the locations of homes that burned.

1900 firefighters are assigned to battle the blaze, including crews from Lakeside Fire (photo, left) who worked to cut a firebreak today.

The Potrero Branch Library will re-open on Thursday, June 23, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. as a Cool Zone. No data or WiFi service will be available at the library. Cool Zones can help you beat the heat. A complete list can be found here.

EVACUATION ORDERS LIFTED FOR WESTERN POTRERO

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

June 22, 2016 (Potrero) --CAL FIRE reports that an evacuation order has been lifted for the following areas for some Potrero residents at 4 p.m. and for the general public at 6 p.m.:

  • West of Potrero Valley Road at Potrero Valley
  • West of Potrero General Store at 25125 State Route 94, including the north and south sides of State Route 94
  • Potrero County Park

Residents who live in this area will be allowed back in with photo identification. ll other evacuation orders and warnings remain in effect.

CAL FIRE also reported the following road closures:

ANIMALS DYING IN POTRERO,OFFICIALS REFUSE ACCESS TO AID LIVESTOCK AND PETS IN EVACUATION AREA

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy County Animal Services:  Dog rescued from Border Fire by reporter Joe Little from ECM news partner 10 News on Highway 94 in Potrero.  The County is seeking the owner of the dog, which suffered four burned paws.

June 22,2016 (Potrero) – A humanitarian crisis is occurring in Potrero, where fire and law enforcement authorities continue to deny access to residents seeking to bring in feed and water for pets and livestock that are dying  of neglect in triple-digit heat within the evacuation area for the Border Fire.

Within the past hour, Colin Richard posted this message on the Potrero Town Feed on Facebook:

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