By Miriam Raftery
January 14, 2014 (San Diego's East County)--Are babies and children at risk of suppressed immune systems from wildfire smoke?
A new study at the University of Califiornia, Davis, suggests this could be the case.
The study was conducted by the University and by the California Air Resources Board. It looked at 25 young Rhesus Macaque monkeys born at the university’s Primate Research Center during summer of 2008, when smoke from over 2,000 fires that burned over a million acres drifted into the area. The monkeys born during the wildfires, and who were living outdoors, were found to have suppressed immune systems. Their blood samples were placed in tissue culture dishes, then exposed to disease pathogens—and showed reduced ability to generate immune responses to diseases than blood from 25 other monkeys born a year later.
By Dave Patterson
November 18, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – On September 24, the County Board of Supervisors threw their support behind a Southern California drone testing zone. This rash decision puts San Diego County at risk for $2.7 billion in liability for the property alone if a Drone goes down and starts a fire in the back country. The County Board of Supervisors need to rethink this position quickly, before the FAA opens our skies to drones for testing purposes, and put us all at risk.
June 26, 2013 (San Diego's East County)--Effective June 28, 2013 at 6:00 a.m., fire restrictions on the Cleveland National Forest will be moved to the “Elevated” level. The increase in fire restrictions is due to dryer fuel conditions, higher temperatures, and the likelihood of small fires becoming larger fires.
The purpose of fire restrictions is to reduce the risk of human-caused fires during high fire danger. Fire restrictions impose limitations on forest users and are implemented only as deemed necessary to help prevent wildfires.
Cases have significance for ratepayers if jurors find SDG&E liable for punitive damages
By Nadin Abbott; Miriam Raftery also contributed to this report
June 21, 2013 (San Diego)—Six years after the Witch Creek/Guejito fires, which the California Public Utilities Commission found were caused by SDG&E’s lines, over 2,000 victims have reached settlements with SDG&E. But 16 victims have not settled or received any compensation from the utility for their losses. Now a judge has ruled that some cases may proceed to trial.
At a court hearing on June 19, Judge Richard E. L. Strauss ruled that victims will finally have their day in court—in some cases, with a tort liability, all-issues trial. That could force SDG&E to pay punitive damages if a jury finds the utility was negligent and knew of fire hazards that it failed to correct.
Judge Strauss has set a date for the all-issues trial to finally settle the remaining cases of the Witch Creek/ Rice and Guejito Fires of 2007. These were among the most destructive fires in San Diego history.
Residents Urged to Clear Defensible Space, Plan for Family Readiness
May 22, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – California has already seen 1,569 wildfires this year, about 500 more fires compared to the same period last year and 85 percent more fires than in an average year. With the long, hot and dangerous summer a real possibility, County Supervisor Dianne Jacob and public safety officials today urged residents to protect their homes against wildfires by creating a 100-foot buffer zone.
“Now is the time to prepare for what is shaping up as a tougher-than-usual fire season,” said Supervisor Jacob. “The firestorms of 2003 and 2007 taught us that homes with defensible space are far more likely to survive than homes without it.”
By Nadin Abbott
May 12, 2013 (El Cajon)—California Governor Edmund G. Brown declared the past week “Wildfire Awareness Week.” On Thursday, the top brass fromr Cal-Fire and San Diego Sheriff’s Department addressed the media. ECM also spoke with Lakeside Division Chief R. Laff.
All officials are urging San Diego residents who live in the urban-rural interface, as well as rural areas to be ready for a severe fire season that’s started early. So far Cal Fire has responded to more than 1,100 wildfires already, which is 500 more than normal for this time of year. According to Cal Fire Chief Cal Fire Chief Dale Hutchinson, Southern Region Chief 40,000 acres burned last week.
Officials are urging residents to get ready and maintain 100-feet of defensible space. This is not optional; it is the law, as Chief Hutchinson told us, for those in the urban-wildland interface. Also clean your gutters, and other places where dry vegetation might accumulate. If you do any remodeling, look into the latest fire resistant materials. In addition, remove all tree branches that are within six feet of your home.
May 3, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – We are currently under severe fire conditions. Homeowners are advised to do the following if there are reports of wildland fires:
• Listen to local radio or TV stations for updated emergency information. Follow instructions of local officials regarding the safest escape route. (It may be different than you expect; wildland fires can change direction and speed up suddenly.)
• If you have one, turn on your FRS Radio and set it to your neighborhood’s channel and code. Check in, and continue to monitor for new information. Channel ______ Code _______
• If you believe the fire is too close to your location, evacuate immediately. (The fire may be moving too fast for officials to issue evacuation notifications.) Choose a route away from the fire and other potential fire hazards.
April 18, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Create a zone around your house that will slow the wildfire down and possibly direct it around your home. To do this, you must view your yard as a fuel source. Fire will only burn if fuel is present. Fuel can be your landscaping, woodpiles, decks, etc. To create your defensible space, take the following steps within 30 feet of your home, 50 feet if you live in a heavily treed area or 100 feet if your home is on a hillside. If you live in California, a minimum of 100 feet is required (some areas may require more. Check with your local fire department).
December 6, 2012 (San Diego's East County)--County Supervisor Dianne Jacob is again asking the California Public Utilities Commission to reject an attempt by San Diego Gas & Electric to bill its customers for the uninsured cost of the region’s 2007 wildfires and any future wildfire caused by the utility.
“I remain outraged at SDG&E’s incessant attempt to slap ratepayers with a massive invoice for the 2007 wildfires that scorched hundreds of thousands of acres in rural San Diego County,” Jacob wrote today in a letter to CPUC President Michael Peevey. “The notion that SDG&E cannot afford the costs of these fires is nonsense.”
By Nadin Abbott
November 29, 2012 (San Diego)--Today lawyers representing residents burned out by the 2007 Witch Creek, Rice and Guejito wildfires and attorneys for defendant San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) came before Superior Court Judge Richard E. L. Strauss in San Diego Superior Court to plead for victims who don't wish to settle to be given a trial date.
This is one of the most complex tort cases in recent San Diego history. It stemmed from the Witch Creek fire, which burned 197,990 acres and destroyed 1,124 homes. Although the California Public Utilities Commission has found that SDG&E lines caused these fires, many wildfire victims have yet to receive a penny in compensation five years after their homes and lives were destroyed. Some remain in trailers or other temporary housing five years after the fires.
Obama to Governors in path of Hurricane Sandy: "We will be there...making sure that we've got the best possible response."
By Miriam Raftery
October 28, 2012 (San Diego) – As Hurricane Sandy, one of the worst storms in memory, barrels toward the East Coast and wildfire season hits full stride here in San Diego's East County, voters should know that when asked about federal disaster relief at a debate among Republican primary presidential candidates, Mitt Romney called such spending “immoral.”
CPUC ISSUES CONFLICTING DRAFT DECISIONS ON WHETHER SDG&E MAY CHARGE CA RATEPAYERS FOR WILDFIRES CAUSED BY ITS POWER LINES
By Miriam Raftery
October 20, 2012 (San Diego)—Should SDG&E be allowed to charge ratepayers for the 2007 wildfires that it caused – as well as damage from any future fires? The utility has sought to set up a ““Wildfire Expense Balancing Account” (WEBA) that would allow it to recover its uninsured losses—regardless of whether the utility was negligent in failing to maintain its lines and equipment.
This week, two conflicting draft decisions from California Public Utilities representatives are fueling further controversy.
September 28, 2012 (San Diego) – You don’t know where you’ll be when the next wildfire or other major emergency hits San Diego County. But this week’s destructive Shockey Fire is our latest reminder that emergencies do happen here.
Starting today, you can download SD Emergency to your iPhone, iPad or Android phone or tablet to get critical emergency information wherever you are. The app is designed to keep residents and their families informed and safe throughout events likely to affect the region, such as wildfires, or potential threats, such as damaging earthquakes or terrorist events.
E - The Environmental Magazine
Written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss
September 24, 2012 -- Dear EarthTalk: What is the scientific consensus on all the extreme weather we’ve been having—from monster tornadoes to massive floods and wildfires? Is there a clear connection to climate change? And if so what are we doing to be prepared? -- Jason Devine, Summit, PA
September 13, 2012 (Sacramento) – Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) announced today that her legislation to protect development from wildfire has been signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.
“SB 1241 will save lives and property. It will also ease the financial burden for fire suppression on both state and local governments through early, consistent, and meaningful fire hazard planning statewide,” stated Senator Kehoe. “We have fires in California every year. As more people move into State Responsibility Areas and high fire hazard severity zones, it’s become critical that local governments plan for fire hazards in these high risk areas as early in their land use planning process as possible,” Kehoe said.
By Miriam Raftery
August 25, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)—High temperatures and the worst drought since the Dust Bowl in the 1930s have combined to fuel severe wildfires across the U.S. in the first 8 months of the year, wildfires have scorched nearly 7 million acres—on pace to make 2012 one of the worst years on record.
- Al Jazeera: tests suggest Arafat died of radioactive polonium poisoning (USA Today)
- Mexico’s president-elect may double security spending – aide (Reuters)
- Iran long range missiles attack ‘mock’enemy bases (ABC news)
- Report describes brutal torture centers in Syria (CNN)
- Obama, Romney campaign to square off over energy (The Hill)
- Congress passes student loan bill (Huffington Post)
- The bomb buried in Obamacare explodes today – Hallelujah! (Forbes)
- More state leaders considering opting out of Medicare expansion (Washington Post)
- Romney campaign enters ‘message mayhem’ on insurance mandate (USA Today)
- The Nation: Guns blamed for started wildfires in parched west (North County Times)
- This summer is ‘what global warming looks like’ (AP/Associated Press)
- Deadly land hurricane strikes Midwest, Atlantic states (Accuweather)
- A health care Judas recounts his conversion (CNN)
Residents Urged to Clear Defensible Space Ahead of Peak Fire Season
May 27, 2012 (Jamul) – On May 22, Cal Fire and County officials, including County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, gave a tour with the homeowners of a correctly cleared space around a Jamul home. With vegetation drying out and summer drawing near now is the best time to make sure homes are protected by 100 feet of defensible space. Cal Fire Chief, Thom Porter led the tour and provided a map of high-risk areas that have not burned recently.
CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE LORI SALDAÑA SHARES VIEWS ON JOBS, HEALTHCARE, ENERGY POLICIES, VETERANS AND SENIOR ISSUES, AND THE FIGHT FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS
- Perfect recipe for wildfires as season starts early (NBC)
- With Santorum’s exit, Romney shifts focus (Washington Post)
- FDA details clot risk on birth control pills (USA Today)
- Romney blames Obama for women job losses actually caused by GOP (Rawstory)
- Obama: We could call the Buffet rule the Reagan rule (CBS news)
- Hill insider trading bill signed
- Where is George Zimmerman? Treyvon Martin shooting (CBS News)
- Apple, publishers accused of fixing e-book prices (Reuters)
- Defiant North Korea begins injecting fuel into rocket (Reuters)
- Syria pledges truce, if rebels hold fire (Reuters)
- Warnings over medical implant hacks (BBC)
- No sign of tsunami after powerful Indonesia quake (KPBS)
- Haitian orphans long wait is over (Fox)
- China braces for next act in leadership drama (Reuters)
- Norway’s mass killer Breivik found sane (BBC)
Supervisor warns of ‘purchased’ testimony from groups receiving SDG&E funding
SAN DIEGO— San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob is set to ask state regulators to reject a proposal by SDG&E that would force ratepayers to shoulder the costs of the 2007 wildfires and future wildfires. The California Public Utilities Commission is holding public hearings on the matter tomorrow at the Al Bahr Shriners Memorial Auditorium, 5440 Kearny Mesa Road, at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
CPUC WILL HOLD HEARING IN SAN DIEGO APRIL 5 ON SDG&E REQUEST TO CHARGE RATEPAYERS FOR WILDFIRE COSTS
February 24, 2012 (San Diego)—San Diego County residents will finally have a chance to tell the California Public Utilities Commission what they think about San Diego Gas & Electric’s proposal to charge ratepayers $463.9 million for the utility’s uninsured losses due to the 2007 wildfires caused by its poorly maintained power lines.
Commissioner Timothy Alan Simon will hold a public participation hearing on April 5 from 4-9 p.m. at the Al Bar Shriner Auditorium , 4330 Kearny Mesa Road in San Diego.
The announcement follows a February 21, 2012 “Turko Files” KUSI TV investigative report which revealed over a dozen private meetings in which SDG&E executives wined and dined CPUC Commissioner Simon, who is acting as a judge on this matter: http://www.kusi.com/story/16988213/almost-anything-goes.
Employee award recognizes John Thomas’ many contributions to department
STATE FIRE BOARD REDUCES FIRE PARCEL FEE, EXTENDS CREDITS TO HOMEOWNERS ALREADY PAYING LOCAL FIRE FEES
By Miriam Raftery
August 23, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Rural homeowners will pay a fire parcel fee of $90 at most, and in many cases considerably less. Statewide, the total annual fire parcel fee will average just $30 under emergency regulations approved yesterday by the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection.
That’s substantially less than the $150 per parcel allowed under the state budget signed into law that was estimated to raise $50 million in fire parcel fees, raising new questions of how to stem the budget gap.
June 22, 2011 (San Diego) -- Wildfires are increasing in both absolute number and severity in the American southwest and this trend is predicted to continue over decades to come. Wildfire prevention has now become a major priority, and scientists at the University of California, San Diego have received federal funding to devise descriptive and predictive simulation tools to help prevent or suppress wildfires.
With a one-year grant* from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Office of Cyberinfrastructure, effective June 1, the UC San Diego researchers have opened a new phase for their SDFireSight project. They will develop a technical framework and computer models that will simulate the conditions that can spark a wildfire in San Diego’s ‘backcountry’.
DEFENSIBLE SPACE DAYS: : FIRE OFFICIALS URGE RESIDENTS TO GIVE HOMES FIGHTING CHANCE AGAINST WILDFIRES
Following cuts in Cal-Fire staffing, fire agencies will be out in force next weekend to inspect properties and educate public
June 5, 2011 (San Diego's East County) -- State budget cuts have slashed staffing on Cal-Fire engines from four men to three. The manpower cuts as fire season approaches come at a time when heavy winter rains mean more growth of brush, providing increased fuel for fires. The County asks residents to join in Defensible Space Days and remove fire hazards within 100 feet of your home before peak fire season. Fire agencies and safety groups will be out in the community June 10-12 to provide information about defensible space, including what is required by law and local code.
May 7, 2011 (San Diego’s East County)--With fire season around the corner, Governor Jerry Brown declared May 1-7 “Wildfire Awareness Week.” CAL FIRE urges homeowners to be prepared. So far this year, California has experienced above average rainfall, leaving many areas green and overgrown. As warmer temperatures occur, grass and brush will dry out and fire danger will dramatically increase, experts warn.
“This year’s fire season has not started as early as it has in years past,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE acting director. “That's why residents should take the time now, while the grass is still green, to make sure they are ready for California's wildfires.” Visit www.ReadyForWildfire.org and scroll down for more info.