Skip navigation.
Home

Wildfire News




Also please see our wildfire resource section.

FLASH FLOOD ALERTS and ROAD CLOSURES IN EAST COUNTY; FIRE IN BORREGO

 

 

Update 2:45 p.m.: Viejas Grade in Alpine is closed at Willows due to an ATV accident with injuries.

Photo by Brett Staubaum: Smoke from Borrego tree farm fire and thunderheads overhead

August 21, 2014 (San Diego's East County)--The National Weather Service has issued two separate flash flood alerts due to thunderstorms in the East County.  This is the second day in a row of stormy weather; yesterday over 200 lightning strikes occurred countywide, including 95 on land and 129 over coastal waters.

The first storm cell today was reported about 23 miles south of Borrrego Springs, and the cell is nearly stations. It is producing flooding on sections of the S-1, (Sunrise Highway), as well as Pine Valley. Some of these areas were burned during the Chariot Fire, so there is a danger of mudslides as well. 

There is a second cell that is affecting I-8 and it is slowly moving towards the Mexican border. Both alerts are to remain in place until three this afternoon.

In addition, CHP reports a lightning fire in Borrego at the Borrego tree farm; a road closure in the area has been lifted now.

BORDER FIRE PROMPTS CAL FIRE WARNING TO SHOOTERS

 

August 20, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)—A 20-acre wildland fire on the border caused by target shooting last weekend has prompted CAL-Fire to issue a stern warning: shooting on state lands during these extreme drought conditions is prohibited—and if you start a fire, you can be held liable for firefighting costs.

FIRE CHIEFS AND REGIONAL OFFICIALS ASSESS RESPONSE TO MAY FIRES, PREPAREDNESS FOR FUTURE FIRES

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

August 16, 2014 (San Diego) – In the wake of the May wildfires that resulted in a countywide disaster declaration, Fire Chiefs and elected officials from across the region met on July 31 at the Count Operations Center to assess what went right--and what areas have room for improvement.

CALIFORNIA FIRE CHIEFS ASSOCIATION ISSUES STATEMENT ON FIREFIGHTING EFFORTS STATEWIDE

 

August 13, 2014 (Sacramento)—Today, the California Fire Chiefs Association has issued the following news alert with updates on firefighting and wildfire preparedness efforts statewide:

CHAPARRAL INSTITUTE: NEWS STORY FALSELY CLAIMS "EVERYTHING IS DEAD" ONE YEAR AFTER YOSEMITE FIRE

 

August 5, 2014 (San Diego)—The Chaparral Institute, a San Diego-based environmental organization, has issued a press release revealing that a CBS affiliate in Sacramento recycled a sensationalized 2013 Associated Press news article this week with a new headline that reads,  “1 Year Later, Scientists Find Yosemite Rim Fire Left Behind a Sierra Moonscape.” The story suggested that “everything is dead” – a point disputed by the Chaparral institute.

WILDFIRES WORSENING DUE TO CLIMATE CHANGE: NEW WHITE HOUSE VIDEO

MEET THE NEW CAL FIRE LEADERS AUG. 7

 

July 29, 2014 (Boulevard) – The public is invited to meet new leaders of Cal Fire in rural East County.  Free pizza will also be offered at the event at the Manzanita Diner in Boulevard on August 7, 2014 from 4 to 7 p.m.

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 disaster declaration. A lot has improved since 2003 and 2007 firestorms.  But if fires were to start in East County, a more troubling result could occur—and an ECM investigation raises serious doubts over inadequate volunteer staffing to respond even to routine house fires and medical calls in some rural communities.

Last October,  our investigative report 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. 

BRUSH FIRES HALTED AT 25 ACRES IN LAKESIDE

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by John Dill

July 29, 2014 (Lakeside)—Multiple spot fires broke out along Wildcat Canyon Road in Lakeside just south of Barona Creek Golf Club near Founders Way shortly after noon today. The blazes sparked some tense moments for residents in this rural community where the deadly Cedar Fire of a decade ago remains a smoldering memory.

John Dill told East County Magazine that his wife called in the fire at 12:09 p.m. at mile marker 6.5.  “Within the ten minutes it took for a response, the fire went from a small area fire to a very large fire,” he said.

CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST ANNOUNCES FIRE RESTRICTIONS

 

July 17, 2014 (Cleveland National Forest)--Due to high fire danger, Cleveland National Forest has announced elevated fires restrictions starting Friday, July 18th.  The change is due to dryer fuel conditions, higher temperatures, and the likelihood of small fires becoming big fires.

LOCAL COMPANY OFFERS FREE PHOTO SCANNING FOR WILDFIRE SURVIVORS WHO LOST HOMES IN SAN DIEGO'S MAY WILDFIRES

 

July 11, 2014 (San Diego) – ScanDiego, a local digital scanning service company (www.clickscanshare.com), is donating $500 worth of scanning services to any family who lost a home in the San Diego county wildfires during May 2014.

MISSION TRAILS PARK CLOSED MONDAY FOR FIRE INVESTIGATION

 

By Nadin Abbott

Photos by Nadin and Tom Abbott

Videos by Nadin Abbott

July 13, 2014 (San Carlos) The “Trails Fire” scorched 90 acres at the Mission Trails Park today. The fire started near the Junipero Serra Trail near the visitor center and was first discovered and reported to fire officials by the Bieker family from El Cajon.

BRUSH FIRE CLOSES MISSION TRAILS REGIONAL PARK

 

 

East County News Service

Photos by Helga Weis, shot at Golfcrest and Navajo

July 13, 2014 (San Diego) – A brush fire has charred nearly 100 acres, forcing closure of Mission Trails Regional Park. The blaze is now 70% contained, however the park will remain closed Monday, San Diego Fire & Rescue Lee Swanson told ECM news partner 10 News.   

Fortunately there were few hikers in the park due to the hot weather and all were able to get out safely. One firefighter suffered a heat-related injury, however.

DROP A LINE AT THE SANTEE FIREFIGHTERS FISHING DERBY JULY 12

 

June 25, 2014 (Santee) – The Santee Firefighters Fishing Derby is set for Saturday, July 12 at Santee Lakes from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Derby participants will receive a free day permit, worms, raffle ticket, hot dog lunch and free door prizes while they last.

URGENT POLL: ASK KNSJ TO AIR LIVE WILDFIRE ALERTS & WILDFIRE REPORTING: HONOR PROMISES MADE TO DONORS & HELP SAVE LIVES

 

Dear  Readers:

A year ago when KNSJ radio launched, the station promised to air our live wildfire and emergency alerts. Saturday is their anniversary party - please send a message TODAY asking them to honor this promise!

In the July 2013 Chariot Fire the station did go live and I reported on the fire on Mt. Laguna.  For a few weeks, KNSJ aired our alerts with a delay of an hour or so, promising to improve technology to get real live alerts. Later KNSJ stopped airing wildfire alerts at all. I’ve pleaded with KNSJ to air Viejas Wildfire Alerts as promised, which we offer them free, to save lives and keep you safe. In the backcountry when power lines burn and some have no cell service,  battery-powered radio is often the only way to get news during fires.

KNSJ’s CEO says having the federal emergency broadcast system  in place is enough, but it’s not. It wasn’t activated during recent fires in East County.  KNSJ's CEO and Board  refuse to even guarantee a start date for alerts or an exact dollar figure that would guarantee these would air. They ask for more money, without delivering on promises made to donors who already gave to support getting alerts on the air.  KNSJ also has zero live broadcasting, even for breaking news during fires.

TAKE OUR POLL AND SEND A MESSAGE TO KNSJ:  Should the FCC ask KNSJ to keep its promise and air live Viejas Wildfire & Emergency Alerts & have live news broadcasts during wildfires?

PLEASE VOTE HERE:  http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/poll/should-fcc-ask-knsj-keep-its-promise-air-live-viejas-wildfire-emergency-alerts-and-have-live-ne

RAIN LENDS HAND TO FIREFIGHTERS IN JULIAN

 

Update July 6: The fire is now 100% contained, Cal Fire confirms.

By Miriam Raftery

July 5, 2014 (Julian)—Firefighters have held the Banner Fire at 217 acres, the same size as Wednesday night. The blaze that destroyed two homes is now 90% contained, Cal Fire reports.

For Julian residents, the fire brought tense moments.  Rosemary Keane watched as the blaze encroached close to her new home under construction in Julian Estates (photos, left and below).

Yesterday brought storm cells—and rain, as several relieved residents posted on the Julian Connection site on Facebook.  “Who did the rain dance?” asked Joshua Guffey.

FLOOD ADVISORY ISSUED

 

 

July 4, 2014 (San Diego)—The National Weather Service has issued a flood advisory for San Diego County’s mountains and deserts through early evening. In addition, the NWS warns of strong rip current in San Diego’s coastal areas today through Monday. 

The urban and small stream flood advisory remains in effect for Warner Springs, Ranchita, and the Felipe burn area northeast of Julian until 6:45 p.m.

Should the FCC ask KNSJ to keep its promise to air live Viejas Wildfire & Emergency Alerts and have live news during fires?

BANNER FIRE SURVIVOR SPEAKS OUT ON FIRE THAT DESTROYED HIS HOME

 

 

July 4, 2014 (Julian)--John Raifsnider tells 10 News, ECM’s news partner, how he lost his home in the Banner Fire yesterday in Julian--and filmed its destruction on his i-Pad. The fire was so intense that not even cleared defensible space could stop the blaze.  View video:

www.youtube.com/watch?list=UUQv44qD9R5Ae6Z3iUeZm7iQ&v=MS0-IjmqgFs&feature=player_detailpage

BRUSH FIRE CANCELS FOURTH OF JULY PARADE IN JULIAN

Photo, left:  Cal Fire Chief Joe Rinaldi discusses need to cancel parade for safety's sake.

 

By Nadin Abbott

Photos Tom and Nadin Abbott

July 4, 2014 (Julian) The Fourth of July parade was an unintended victim  of the so called “Banner Fire” east of Julian, which destroyed two homes and injured a firefighter. The fire started at around noon and by this morning it has charred 217 acres, with 40 percent containment according to Captain Ken Bortisser of CAL FIRE.

The following road closures remain in effect: State Route 78 at Manzanita Drive, and  Manzanita Drive at Lakeview Drive.

The decision to cancel the parade, announced late yesterday by the California Highway Patrol and CAL FIRE, sparked consternation among some residents.

FIRE THREATENS 200 HOMES IN JULIAN AREA: EVACUATIONS IN PROGRESS

 

 

Update 7:30 p.m.  The fire has charred 150 acres and burned two homes.  Residents are now being allowed to return home, with ID.  The Julian 4th of July Parade has been cancelled, CHP advises,  though other activities including the American Legion BBQ will go on.

Update 12:35 p.m.:  This fire is now 75-100 acres in the Julian area, Air Attack estimates, with potential for extended attack. Two structures are reportedly damaged. Evacuations now include Kenwood and Whispering Pines. Temperature is 90 with 14% humidity and possibility of thundershowers tomorrow. 

Photo by Daren Sefcik, shot from Ranchita

July 3, 2014 (Julian) -- A brush fire burning along Banner Grade west of Julian has charred an estimated 30-40 acres or more. The Whispering Pines area is being evacuated with 200 homes there threatened, Cal Fire confirms shortly after noon today. 

The Julian High School has been set up as an evacuation area.

If you have photos or details on this fire or others, please send to editor@eastcountymagazine.org.

CAL FIRE BANS BURNING AND TARGET SHOOTING DUE TO FIRE DANGER

 

By Miriam Raftery

Cal Fire has declared a high fire hazard as we enter the holiday weekend.  Already this year, Cal Fire has responded to 2,118 fires – a 70% increase over the average for this same time period in recent years. 

In an effort to reduce the amount of fires caused by open burning and shooting within the County of San Diego, CAL FIRE has declared a high fire hazard. 

BILL IN CONGRESS WOULD LET FEDERAL DISASTER FUNDS BE USED TO FIGHT CATASTROPHIC WILDFIRES

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 21, 2014 (Washington D.C.) – The U.S. Forest Service warns that this year could bring a catastrophic fire season in the Southwest with estimated that firefighting costs of $1.8 billion this year for the Interior Department overall – that’s nearly triple the amount of money available to fight fires.

MAY 2014 WILDFIRES REPORT PRESENTED TO BOARD

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 20, 2014 (San Diego)--Hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency upgrades made over the past decade helped to minimize losses in last month's devastating wildfires and enable a successful response by the County of San Diego.  That’s the conclusion of the After Action Report  prepared by County staff and presented to Supervisors this week.

The report cites dramatic improvements made since the 2003 wildfires struck our region, and what additional upgrades could be made as the region braces for what appears to be a severe fire season.  It stops short, however, of addressing the biggest gap in coverage for rural residents.

FIREFIGHTERS' DEMOLITION RALLY AND FIRE SAFETY EXPO AT COUNTY FAIR BENEFITS BURN INSTITUTE

 

Viejas and State Farm team up for annual smashing event

View video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djXNah2BaRM&feature=youtu.be

By Nadin Abbott

Photos by Tom Abbott

June 7, 2014 (San Diego) The engines roared and dust filled the large arena at the San Diego County Fair at Del Mar arena, where the cars were ready to go. It was time for the first heat of the Demolition Derby, an event sponsored by the Viejas Tribe and State Farm to benefit the Burn Institute of San Diego. The fair, which opened June 7, continues through July 6. For full information on this year’s fair, visit www.sdfair.com.

SKY LANTERNS POSE FIRE RISK, CHIEF WARNS

 

Use of dangerous product persist despite statewide ban resulting from ECM investigation

By Miriam Raftery

June 6, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) -- With tinder-dry conditions during the drought, Fire Chief Rick Sitta at Heartland Fire & Rescue is warning residents about the dangers of sky lanterns.  “These fire lanterns pose a serious threat to our county,” the Chief says.

HARDENING OF ELECTRICAL POLES IN SANTA YSABEL, RAMONA AREAS

 

By Nadin Abbott

May 29, 2014 (San Diego) One of the effects of Climate Change is that San Diego County is expected to have more wild land fires. They already pose a challenge for San Diego Gas and Electric, since wooden poles can burn down, which can delay power restoration in the backcountry.

BLM BANS SHOOTING ON PUBLIC LANDS DUE TO HIGH FIRE DANGER

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  Otay fire caused by target shooting on BLM land

Effective immediately, the U.S.  Bureau of Land Management has banned recreational shooting g on all BLM lands in San Diego’s East County and the South Coast areas for the remainder of fire season.

“Collectively our staffs have discussed our emerging potentially very dangerous fire season given the prolonged drought,” Clayton R. Howe, Battalion Chief with the BLM, wrote in an email sent to County Fire Authority Acting Chief Greg Griswold on May 23. “We have also sought to reduce the threat of wildfires related to recreational shooting on BLM Administered Public Lands located within your Units.”

Cal Fire Chief John Francois, in an e-mail sent to fire officials and community leaders across our region, stated that fire agencies now have the authority to enforce the restriction on shooting.  “If you see anyone shooting, please contact your local law enforcement agency,” Chief Francois urged.

FIRE CLOSES HIGHWAY 67 IN LAKESIDE: BLAZE HALTED AT 3 ACRES

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Mary Micklin

May 25, 2015 (Lakeside)—The “Lazy Fire” at Highway 67 near Sycamore Canyon has been halted at 3 acres, Cal Fire reports.  The blaze forced closure of Highway 67 in both directions. Most lanes are now reopened but traffic may remain slow, so use caution.

Helicopters scooped water from Lake Vicente to douse the blaze, a reader, Gloria Duncan reports.

Syndicate content