San Diego wildfires

PETITION LAUNCHED TO SAVE EAST COUNTY LAKES--AND PROTECT LIVES DURING WILDFIRES

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 26, 2016 (Lake Morena) – An online petition has been launched asking the City of San Diego to stop draining Lake Morena and Barrett Lake. Rural residents seek help from San Diego residents and all who are concerned about wildlife or the prospect of a devastating firestorm to sign the petition.

The petition, posted by Campo resident Karen Noblitt-McIntyre, accuses San Diego officials of ignoring public safety, noting that two residents died during the recent Border Fire. Firefighting aircraft were diverted to water sources farther away due to lack of water in these lakes, witnesses stated in recent public meetings.

The petition states that the city has put wildlife and rural communities at risk, also failing to live up to its promise to repair the dam at Lake Morena. The city drained Lake Morena to less than 3% of capacity and Barrett Lake to below 6% of capacity, public records indicate.  Although San Diego claimed it needed drinking water during the drought, the city did not ask its residents to conserve water before draining East County’s lakes.  The water was pumped to Otay reservoir, which overfilled when rain fell, so the city dumped the precious water supply into the ocean.

WHY ARE SO MANY FIRE STATIONS CLOSED—AND WHAT’S BEING DONE BY COUNTY TO BOOST STAFFING?

 

 

A quarter of all rural stations were closed –at the same time—during April

An East County Magazine special investigative report

By Miriam Raftery

July 31, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – The County Fire Authority has touted its successes in preventing the May wildfires in North County from destroying thousands of homes despite a county-wide disaster declaration.  Granted, a lot has improved since the devastating 2003 and 2007 firestorms in our region--the worst in California's history. But if fires were to start in East County today, the outcome could be tragic. An East County Magazine investigation raises serious doubts over  inadequate volunteer firefighter staffing and the ability to respond even to routine house fires and medical calls in some rural communities.

Last October,  our investigative report,"Closed for Fire Season" revealed that Boulevard’s fire station was closed for two months during fire season and Jacumba’s station also had some dark days- -including one when a resident died of a medical emergency after a delay in emergency services arriving. The County responded by funding emergency staffing and according to Supervisor Jacob’s staff, these two stations remained open every day  for at least several months thereafter, an ECM records check in late April revealed.   

But on July 9, Craig Williams, an information technology provider for the Campo Fire Department, advised ECM that “without any notification to the community leaders."  two days ago Cal Fire “moved the overtime, off-budget, paid Cal Fire firefighters out of Boulevard to Jacumba Hot Springs. Now  Boulevard is stuck with Fire Authority `volunteers’ only, just like Campo.’”

Worse,  a new investigation by ECM reveals that this is the tip of an iceberg--with many stations understaffed and some closed for months. 

COUNTY OPENS CENTER TO AID COCOS FIRE VICTIMS; NEW FIRE TONIGHT ON CAMP PENDLETON AS FIREFIGHTERS GAIN CONTROL OF MAJOR BLAZES

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy Supervisor Dave Roberts

May 16, 2014 (San Diego) 8 p.m. –Firefighters have made major strides toward containing what is now known as the San Diego Complex fires across our region, thanks to major air power and reduced winds.

All told, the fires have required 1,323 firefighting personnel including 164 engines, 27 fire crews, 5 fixed-wing aircraft, 10 helicopters and more, CAL-FIRE reports this evening.  Multilpe agencies and the Sycuan Fire Department's Golden Eagles hotshot team from East County were also deployed to help battle the blaze.

But a new fire tonight, the Combat Fire on Camp Pendleton is burning on the northwest part of the base, prompting evacuations including the San Onofre Housing area and School of Infantry. In addition the Las Pulgas Fire is over 8,000 acres and is 5 percent contained on the base, where the Tomahawk Fire scorched another 6300 acres and is 23 percent contained.

For other fires, those within the CAL-FIRE service area, visit http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incidents_current  or scroll down and click "read more."

JOINT ARSON TASK FORCE SEEKS INFO ON WILDFIRES

 

 

May 16, 2014 (San Diego) – A Joint Arson Task Force has been established to determine the origin and cause of the many fires throughout San Diego County this week.  If you have any information regarding the fires, please call San Diego Crime Stoppers at 619-235-TIPS, that’s 619-235-8477.  You can remain anonymous and  reward may be offered if information leads to a conviction.

ARSON ARRESTS MADE IN ESCONDIDO AS FIREFIGHTERS GAIN GROUND ON BLAZES

 

 

Update 12 p.m.  The Poinsettia Fire in Carlsbad is now 100% contained.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy ECM news partner 10 News

May 16, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)  9 a.m. --Escondido Police have arrested  Isaiah Silva, 19, and a juvenile for arson, U-T San Diego reports.  The arrests came after a citizen reporting seeing two people start a fire in a field near South Escondido Boulevard and another citizen reporting seeing arsonists start a blaze at Kit Carson Park.  However, Lt. Mike Kearney has stated that the two suspects are not believed to have started any of the major wildfires currently burning in San Diego County.

Cause of the other fires countywide remain undetermined.  There has been speculation in some media outlets of arson but officials have indicated the causes remain under investigation.  An arson strike force has been assembled to investigate the fires.

Over 121,000 evacuation notices have been sent by officials and hundreds stayed in shelters overnight as numerous fires burned across the region.

Below are updates on the major fires.

CHALDEAN CHAMBER LAUNCHES MATCHING FUND TO HELP FIRE VICTIMS

 

 

 

May 16, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – The Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce in East County has created a fund to help those who were evacuated during the 2014 wildfires in San Diego County.

“We all have to do our part,” said Ben Kalasho, president of the Chamber. “If we raise $5,000 I will match that contribution with $5,000 of my own.”

To make a donation, visit  http://www.gofundme.com/98nxgo

SCHOOL CLOSURE UPDATES FOR FRIDAY, MAY 16

 

Update: Grossmont Union High School District schools will be open, though CIF sports events remain cancelled.

By Miriam Raftery

May 15, 2014 (San Diego)--The safety and security of students, faculty, and staff is of the upmost importance to schools across the county, the County Office of Education’s website states. As the current wildfires change and grow, each school district will continue to monitor the local emergency situation and make school closure decisions on a day-by-day basis.  

Below is a list of schools that will be closed Friday, schools that will be open, and others that will announce their decision Friday morning.

GOVERNOR DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY FOR SAN DIEGO COUNTY

 

Source: San Diego County News Service

May 14, 2014 (San Diego)-- Governor Jerry Brown has proclaimed a State of Emergency this evening after the County of San Diego proclaimed a local emergency earlier in the day and requested the state declaration. The local and state proclamations mean the County can more easily access state and federal resources as needed to help in fighting the fires.

The state proclamation notes that a Federal Management Assistance Grant has been requested and approved by FEMA for the Poinsettia Fire in Carlsbad. Under the federal Fire Management Assistance Grant Program, the federal government shares the costs of local fires.

Full text of the Governor’s press release and proclamation are below.

CIF ATHLETIC COMPETITIONS CANCELLED COUNTYWIDE FOR THURSDAY

East County News Service

May 14, 2014 (San Diego)--All California Interscholastic Scholarship Federation (CIF) athletic competitions scheduled for Thursday, May 15 are cancelled in San Diego County.  No contests are to be played in any sport.  

“The fires themselves, the fluidity of circumstances, air quality, traffic/travel, school closures and school access are all issues that have prompted this cancellation,” said Jerry Schniepp, commissioner, CIF San Diego section.  

WILDFIRE UPDATES

 

By Miriam Raftery

May 14, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) 8 p.m. --  Southern California Emergency Services has published a map of  9 fires burning across the region, as of 6 p.m. this evening:  https://twitter.com/SoCalEMSFire/status/466748689151954946/photo/1

Firefighters have gained control of the Sterling Fire in Lakeside, where 1,300 households were evacuated and residents are projected to be allowed back home around 9 p.m.  An eyewitness, Elizabeth Galloway, told ECM she saw a transformer explode, which apparently caused the fire.  Galloway sent the photo at the top of this page.

A red flag warning has been extended through tomorrow night due to strong winds forecast and hot, triple-digit weather.

For updates on the following fires, visit these links:

SCHOOL DISTRICTS CLOSED TOMORROW DUE TO WILDFIRES

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 14, 2014 (San Diego's East County)--Dozens of school districts closed tomorrow due to the wildfires, air quality issues and road closures. These include Cajon Valley, Escondido, Grossmont Union High School District, Lakeside, La Mesa-Spring Valley, Lemon Grove, Poway, Ramona, Santee, and San Pasqual school districts in the inland region as well as San Diego Unified.  For additional closures http://www.sdcoe.net/news/Pages/2014-school-closure-update.aspx

California State University San Marcos remains closed after today’s evacuation and graduation ceremonies set for tomorrow will be rescheduled.

THIS FIRE SEASON IS EXPECTED TO BE AMONG THE WORST IN STATE HISTORY, CAL FIRE AND INTERIOR DEPT. SECRETARY WARN



Photo: Interior Secretary Sally Jewell thanks a Golden Eagle hotshot firefighter from the Bureau of Indian Affairs

 

By Nadin Abbott

Photos by Nadin and Tom Abbott

May 8, 2014 (Spring Valley) The number of fires this year is higher than normal.  Interstate 8 has closed due to fires twice already this year during the Gun Fire at Mount Laguna and the Jacumba fire just this week.  Drought and climate change are key factors, officials warn—and this could be our worse wildfire season on record.

“The drought is expanding throughout the state of California” as well as the Southwest region, said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell during a Wildfire Awareness Week event at CAL FIRE Headquarters in Spring Valley on May 6th. 

She cited a new report just issued by the White House, noting that climate change “increases the risk from drought.”

FEDS FURLOUGH NATIONAL GUARD TECHNICIANS WHO MAINTAIN FIREFIGHTING AIRCRAFT

Supervisors to hear proposal Tuesday urging fast transfer of planes for firefighting from Department of Defense to U.S. Forest Service

By Miriam Raftery

October 5, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Shut-down of the federal government over the spending bill impasse has caused furlough of 2,000 California National Guard technicians who maintain helicopters and cargo planes that respond to major wildfires statewide. Major General David Baldwin has said that “lives are at stake” because of these “inane cuts and work stoppages,” the SF Gate reported

“The federal government needs to grow up, settle its budget mess and remember one of its primary obligations – public safety,” Supervisor Dianne Jacob  told East County Magazine.  “Any furloughs or other cutbacks that undermine aerial firefighting would be a major concern, especially as our region approaches the most dangerous stretch of the wildfire season.”

On Tuesday, Supervisors will hear a proposal by Supervisors Jacob and Greg Cox asking the U.S. Department of Defense to transfer seven surplus C-27 aircraft to the U.S. Forest Service to bolster firefighting resources in San Diego County and other areas.

MEASURE TO AID VULNERABLE RESIDENTS IN EMERGENCIES, REPORT ON DISATER PREPAREDNESS ON SUPERVISORS’ AGENDA TUESDAY

 

By Miriam Raftery

September 8, 2013 (San Diego) – After visiting the Rim Fire (photo, left)  to learn more about large-scale disaster responses, Supervisor Dave Roberts announces he is introducing emergency preparedness legislation on Tuesday, September 10, along with Supervisor Ron Roberts.

“Our initiative seeks to assist our most vulnerable residents in the event of a disaster,” said Dave Roberts in a newsletter to constituents.   Also on Tuesday, the County’s Office of Emergency Services will update Board members on community preparedness and improvements made since the 2007 firestorms  as the height of fire season approaches.

Vulnerable residents include those with physical, cognitive or emotional disabilities.  A survey by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research found a staggering 26 percent of San Diego County residents report they are disabled due to a physical, mental or emotional condition.  A 2009 survey asked if people were prepared for a major disaster and among those who replied “not prepared, 30.3% said they were disabled.   County records also list 25,000 individuals who need a personal care assistant to be independent.

RURAL FIRE DISTRICT LAWYER: BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS IGNORED FIRE CONCERNS, PUBLIC HEALTH AT SHU’LUUK WIND PROJECT IN CAMPO

 

“On its face…it appears that the DEIS [Draft Environmental Impact Statement] fails to include any legally enforceable Public Health and Safety mitigation measures….A failure to mandate even minimal fire protection standards or a protection plan will not only endanger workers on-site, it represents a potential fire threat to the surrounding communities.” 

– Cynthia L. Eldred, attorney for the San Diego Rural Fire Protection District

By Miriam Raftery

February 26, 2013 (Campo) – An attorney representing the San Diego Rural Fire Protection District has sent repeated letters  to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) taking the agency to task for ignoring health, safety and fire concerns in its consideration of the Shu’luuk Wind project.    In a February 25, 2013 comment  submitted to the BIA, the district further accuses the BIA of violating federal law and failing to require mitigation of serious problems for the proposed project on the Campo Indian reservation.

ILLEGAL SHOOTING SUSPECTED AS CAUSE OF SHOCKEY FIRE CAUSE

Six wildfires earlier this summer in East County were caused by target shooting

By Miriam Raftery

October 1, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Cal Fire investigators have pinpointed the origin of the Shockey Fire to an area where illegal target shooting was taking place on state land near Shockey Truck Trail, Mike Mohler of Cal Fire informed ECM today.

Investigators are not yet certain that shooting caused the fire, but if so, the shooter could be held liable for damages including loss of 11 homes and death of an elderly resident, Mohler confirmed in an exclusive interview with ECM. Cal-Fire urges anyone with information on the Shockey Fire to call the Arson Hotline at 800-468-4408.

EDITORIAL: RESIDENTS COUNTYWIDE SHOULD URGE SUPERVISORS TO BAN WIND TURBINES IN FIRE-PRONE REGIONS

 

County Democrats gut fire protection resolution, while Republican supervisors also fail to protect County residents from wind turbine fires

By Miriam Raftery

August 24, 2012 (San Diego's East County)--The San Diego Democratic Central Committee this week passed a measure calling on County Supervisors to increase firefighting resources-- but removed a key provision that would have urged lawmakers to ban wind turbines in fire-prone East County.  

Wind turbines have been responsible for starting hundreds of fires around the world, including wildfires, but firefighters cannot fight a fire burning in a 500-foot-tall wind turbine whirling off burning debris. With Supervisors poised to approve a wind ordinance opening the door to numerous turbines in the backcountry, the vote was a major disappointment to residents concerned about the clear threat to public safety posed by wind turbines in our fire-prone region.

VALLECITO LIGHTNING FIRES NOW 100% CONTAINED

 

August 19, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Seven lightning-sparked fires that burned more than 22,000 acres are all fully contained, Cal Fire reports this morning. No structures were lost, though four firefighters were injured.  Below are full details on the fires provided by Cal Fire.

NEW FIRES & UPDATES ON EARLIER FIRES

Update 5:30 p.m. --There are multiple fires in the Vallecito Lightning Complex, the largest of these fires per Cal Fire are:

 Vallecito Fire: 350 acres 0% contained South East of Julian, cause lightning

Wilson Fire: 600 acres 0% contained near Scissors crossing North East of Julian, cause lightning

Stewart Fire: 50 acres 0% contained near Scissors crossing North East of Julian, cause lightning

 

A reader advises that Pinyon Ridge is on fire between Shelter Valley and Ranchita (photo above, shot from Shelter Valley, shows Sentanec Cienega where Higwhay 78 enters Sentanec Canyon.

August 13, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) –  The Chihuahua Fire is 100% contained, after burning 2,007 acres according to Cal Fire’s final update.

Multiple new brush fires are burning in East County. Largest of these is the Vallecito Lightning Complex  fire, which has charred 220 degrees and remains 0% contained. No structures are threatened.  

SIX BRUSH FIRES CAUSED BY SHOOTING FIREARMS IN EAST COUNTY; CAL FIRE ASKS BLM TO BAN SHOOTING DURING FIRE SEASON

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 22, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Revelations that six wildfires in the past six weeks have been caused by recreational shooting in East County has caused a firestorm of controversy.  

Cal-Fire, joined by residents of  Dulzura, Potrero and other areas bordering the Otay Wilderness area have asked the federal Bureau of Land Management to ban shooting on its properties within San Diego County for the duration of this year’s expected severe fire season.  

EMERALD CALLS ON MAYOR TO RESTORE FIRE ENGINES, LIFEGUARDS

 

Mayor mum on whether he will take action

 

By: Jeremy Los

 

February 3, 2011 – Councilmember Marti Emerald has made an official plea to Mayor Jerry Sanders to reinvest reserve funds in restoring fire engines and lifeguard services.

 

“The primary function of government is keeping its citizens safe,” said Councilmember Emerald. “I will not stand down until adequate public safety resources are restored to our neighborhoods.”

SUPERVISORS TO DECIDE TUESDAY WHETHER TO MERGE 5 FIRE AGENCIES


Hearing Tuesday, January 25 at 9:30 a.m.

January 24, 2011 (San Diego) -- The County Board of Supervisors will decide tomorrow whether to merge five fire agencies into the San Diego County Fire Authority. A hearing is set for Tuesday, January 25, at 9:30 in the Board Chamber at the County Administration Center, 1600 Pacific Highway in downtown San Diego.

 

The County Fire Authority was created in 2008 when the County united a handful of rural fire agencies with a goal of creating a stronger, more efficient agency that will  eventually serve over half of the geographic area in our region, including unincorporated areas throughout San Diego's East County, where the devastating wildfires in 2003 and 2007 began.

FIRES AND ACCIDENTAL SHOOTING PROMPT CLOSURE OF OROSCO RIDGE SHOOTING AREA; OTHER RECREATIONAL USES ALLOWED


East County News Service

October 21, 2010, (Ramona) -- The Palomar Ranger District of Cleveland National Forest in Ramona is maintaining closure of the Orosco Ridge Recreational Target Shooting Area for an indefinite amount of time, due to public safety concerns. Those include an accidental shooting, near misses at or near the range, and repeated wildfire starts caused by use of both legal and illegal firearms, the U.S. Forest Service reports.

SENATOR KEHOE TO CHAIR JOINT LEGISLATIVE HEARING ON WILDFIRES IN SAN DIEGO SEPT. 23

 

September 21, 2009 (San Diego) -- Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management, convenes an informational hearing on the State of California’s preparation for future wildfires. The hearing will be held Wednesday, Sept. 23 from 1-4 p.m. at Caltrans District 11 headquarters, Garcia Auditorium, 4050 Taylor Street in San Diego. Kehoe will be joined by leaders of state firefighting organizations and fire safety experts.