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PRESCRIBED BURN AT CUYAMACA RANCHO STATE PARK JANUARY 21

 

January 19, 2015 (Julian)--California State Parks will be conducting a prescribed burn in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park with CAL FIRE’s assistance on Wednesday January 21st. The prescribed burn will occur on the south side of Middle Peak in the Park.

WIND TURBINE BURSTS INTO FLAMES IN OCOTILLO

By Miriam Raftery

January 17, 2015 (Ocotillo) –A wind turbine at the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility burst into flames on January 15th.  East County Magazine photographer Jim Pelley, an Ocotillo resident, caught the incident on video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGYvHM5KlJs&feature=youtu.be. The Siemens 2.3-108 turbine was a 2.3 megawatt  model with 108 meter blades.  The turbine (#110) is located along a mining road.

“There were no injuries,” Jeff Grappone from Siemens told ECM.  An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the fire, he stated in an e-mail.  The equipment impacted (six turbines on one circuit) has been de-energized, a safe perimeter established and the tower is being monitored continuously, he indicated.

NEW SAN MIGUEL FIRE BOARD TO CONSIDER RETURNING DISTRICT TO LOCAL CONTROL

Photo, left: Fire inspector Natalie Grimes receives recognition for her service

By Paul Kruze

January 15, 2015 (Spring Valley)--Following a campaign promise which rode a trio of new directors into office on the San Miguel Fire District Board last November, board member Theresa McKenna has introduced a proposal to return control of the agency to local management control. The district currently has a partnership with CAL FIRE to manage firefighting services that was adopted due to an earlier budget shortfall.

McKenna proposed that an ad hoc committee be formed to study the feasibility of the management change at the agency’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Wednesday evening, January 14th.

STATE COMPLETES INVESTIGATION OF SAN MIGUEL FIRE DISTRICT OVER FUNDING DISCREPANCIES: LOCAL TAXPAYERS TO FOOT BILL

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 7, 2015 (Spring Valley) – The State Controller’s Office has issued its final review report on the San Miguel Consolidated Fire Protection District’s administrative and internal accounting controls.

“Our review did not identify any significant deficiencies with the District’s administrative and internal accounting controls,” the report states. None-the-less, the report indicates the state plans to charge the district for the cost of the investigation. report indicates the state launched the investigation  because it had “reason to believe that the Annual Report of Financial Transactions submitted by the District is misstated, incomplete, or incorrect.”

ALPINE FIRE BOARD MEMBERS REAPPOINTED; NO OPPONENTS RAN

 

East County News Service

December 19, 2014 (Alpine)--Four of the five Board Members of the Alpine Fire Protection District were sworn into office for additional terms at the December 16th Board Meeting.  At the meeting, District legal counsel Steve Fitch, administered the oath of office to all four at the same time.

NEW BOARD HOLDS FIRST MEETING IN SAN MIGUEL FIRE DISTRICT

 

By Paul Kruze

December 16, 2014 (Spring Valley) -- Promising a heightened attention to transparency and public involvement in its decisions and special attention to the area around the community of Crest, three newly-elected members of the San Miguel Fire District, Mike Vacio, Jim Ek, and Theresa McKenna, were sworn into office by El Cajon Superior Court Presiding Judge, Laura Halgren at last Wednesday’s regularly scheduled monthly board meeting.  The three replaced previously elected members, Richard Augustine, Chris Winter, and Jeffrey Lyle Nelson, who lost their bids to serve a second four-year term in the November General Election. The board positions held by William Kiel, Dave Rickards, Karrie Johnston, and Dan McMillan are slated for re-election in 2016.

CITY HELICOPTERS CAN NOW FIGHT FIRES ACROSS COUNTY AFTER DARK

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 17, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – The Cedar Fire started at night in a remote East County canyon. With no helicopters capable of doing water drops after dark, it quickly raged out of control, becoming the worst firestorm in California history.

LAST BIG LAWSUIT FROM 2007 WILDFIRES ON VERGE OF SETTLING WITH SDG&E

 

East County News Service

December 9, 2014 (San Diego)--Over 2,600 lawsuits were filed against San Diego Gas & Electric Company over damages from the 2007 firestorms that devastated our region.

CAL FIRE LIFTS BURN BAN AFTER RAINS

 

December 6, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)--Following recent rain, CAL FIRE’s San Diego Unit has lifted the suspension of burning within State Responsibility Area (SRA) in San Diego County effective Monday, December 8, 2014.

PRESCRIBED BURNING BEGINS IN CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST

 

 

 

East County News Service

December 6, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)—If you see smoke over the backcountry, be aware that the Cleveland National Forest will conduct prescribed burning from December 2014 through June of 2015 as weather and fuel conditions permit on the Trabuco, Palomar and Descanso Ranger Districts. The goal of the burning is to reduce hazardous fuels that have accumulated in the Forest and around local communities.

WITNESSES SOUGHT TO ARSON FIRES IN CITY HEIGHTS

 

East County News Service

November 24, 2014 (City Heights) -- The San Diego Police is rounding up suspects in a wave of arson fires that have struck Mid-City neighborhoods in recent weeks. Investigators believe several arsonists may be responsible for at least 16 fires set mostly in neighborhoods in and near City Heights. Now, investigators are asking for the public’s help.

RED FLAG WARNING ISSUED

 

A red flag warning for fire danger is now in effect through Wednesday at 6 p.m. in San Diego’s mountain and inland region. Santa Ana winds with gusts up to 80 miles per hour are forecast.

SDG&E shut off power proactively due to the high winds and fire danger Monday night, leaving about 90 residents in Descanso, Cuyamaca and Boulder Creek without power, ABC 10 News reports. Restoration is expected this morning.

FIRE WEATHER WATCH, WARM THANKSGIVING FORECAST

 

November 22, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – The National Weather Service has issued a fire weather watch for San Diego County’s inland valleys and mountain areas through Tuesday due to warm temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds up to 80 miles per hour forecast.  Monitor the news for possible red flag warnings.

BRUSH FIRE DOUSED ON OTAY LAKES ROAD

East County News Service

November 23, 2014 (Jamul) – A motorcycle fire caused a brush fire that burned approximately one acre today at Pio Pico Thousand Trails in Jamul on Otay Lakes Road.

RED FLAG WARNING

 

November 15, 2014 (San Diego)--The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning from 8 p.m. Sunday to 8  p.m.Monday for the San Diego County inland valleys and mountains. Periods of strong and gusty northeast winds will develop for Sunday into Monday. Very dry conditions will develop with humidity values falling into the single digits on both days. Weaker but gusty northeast winds will continue into Tuesday along with low humidity.  

More forecast information and updates are available from the National Weather Service.

CHALLENGERS OUST INCUMBENTS IN SAN MIGUEL FIRE DISTRICT

 

East County News Service

November 5, 2014 (San Diego's East County) -- The biggest political upset in East County this electionappears to have taken place in the San Miguel Fire District, where a slate of challengers has won three seats on the board, ousting incumbents.

On top with 100% of precincts counted Mike Vacio, Jim Ek and Theresa McKenna with 20.16%, 18.25% and 16.26% of the vote.

RED FLAG WARNING FOR FIRE DANGER ISSUED

 

November 4, 2014 (San Diego) -- With strong, gusty winds and low humidity in the forecast, the National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag warning effective immediately for the inland valleys and mountains. The warning is expected to last until 5 p.m. on Thursday night.

Santa Ana winds of 20-30 miles per hours are forecast, with gusts up to 55 miles per hour in places.  The Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index for San Diego (Zone 3) indicates that the threat will peak on Wednesday with a threat rating of moderate.

CAL FIRE: AN IN DEPTH INTERVIEW

 

By Nadin Abbott and Tom Abbott

Photos Tom Abbott and Nadin Abbott

Reprinted with permission from Reporting San Diego

November 2, 2014 (San Diego) - Reporting San Diego sat down with Captain Ken Bortisser, the Public Information Officer of the Monte Vista Unit. Monte Vista is the name of the San Diego Administrative CAL FIRE unit. We talked about fire issues.

A TALE OF TWO CERT TEAMS

 

 

By Nadin Abbott

October 18, 2014 (Julian)--Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) are locally-based volunteer teams, there to assist in times of disaster. They are locally managed and they almost always are sponsored by an agency.

Brian Kramer, current administrator of Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Department-sponsored CERT team, told ECM that the County did not recognize a second CERT team in Julian sponsored by Johnny and Dianne Hake, since that team is not affiliated with any government agency.

The Hakes said they operate independently and that they broke off their relationship with the Fire Department over philosophical differences.

COUNTY PARTNERS WITH SDSU TO MAKE EMERGENCY ALERTS GO VIRAL

 

October 23, 2014 (San Diego)—The County of San Diego is teaming up with San Diego State University to make emergency alerts go viral over Twitter. 

The project is the brainchild of SDSU geography professor Ming Hsiang-Tsou, who directors the Center for Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age on campus.  Thanks to a million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation, Tsou has been studying how the County’s Office of Emergency Services can spread alerts about disasters such as earthquakes or wildfires quickly and to targeted areas—even if traditional means of communications such as phone lines aren’t working.

CAL FIRE CHIEF DISPUTES CANDIDATE STATEMENTS IN SAN MIGUEL FIRE RACE

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 22, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)—CAL FIRE Tony Mecham, head of the County Fire Authority,  has contacted East County Magazine to dispute statements and factual claims made by two candidates running for the San Miguel Fire District Board in their responses to our candidate questionnaire.  

Chief Mecham states that he is not endorsing any candidate but adds, “There are numerous statements that are factually false.”

PROP 2 BACKERS MAKE DECEPTIVE CLAIMS ON WILDFIRE FIGHTING

 

East County News Service

October 19, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)--A television ad featuring Cal-Fire director Ken Pimlott advises voters that a yes vote on Propositions 1 and 2 will “protect the water and the fire services we need” for the future.  The ad features video of wildfires and suggests that the measures are needed to make sure that California improves its water infrastructure to be better prepared for drought--and to assure that firefighting budgets won’t be cut in future economic downturns.

SAN MIGUEL FIRE BOARD RACE IS HOT

 

Updated October 22, 2014 - CAL FIRE Chief Tony Meacham, head of the County Fire Authority, has written to dispute statements made by two candidates in this race, which he says are "factually false."  You can read details of the Chief's statements here

By Nadin Abbott

October 18, 2014 (San Diego)--In 2012, the San Miguel Fire Board voted for CAL FIRE to take over firefighting operations. The board voted unanimously for the five-year contract because the agency was deep in a hole economically and had already closed a fire station. Those in favor argued that this decision would allow the board to continue operations, recover financially, reopen the closed station and keep service at comparable levels. But critics including at least one challenger running for the board have sharply criticized the deal with Cal-Fire,  citing loss of local control and potential delays in response times, also faulting other board actions.

East County Magazine e-mailed questions to all candidates, including inquiries about the CAL FIRE arrangement and a letter the district received from the State Comptroller raising questions over the board’s finances.

The six candidates include two incumbents (Chris Winter and Rick Augustine) seeking reelection and four challengers. Three of the challengers are running together as a slate (Theresa McKenna, Jim Ek, and Mike Vacio). The other challenger is Cindy Croucher. Bios for incumbents Winter and Augustine are available on the San Miguel Fire district website

Three candidates, challengers Theresa McKenna and Jim Ek, along with incumbent Chris Winter, have responded.  Below are the questions, and their answers, posted in full in the order received.

CAL-FIRE AIR TANKERS ARE FLYING AGAIN

 

Update October 9, 2014, 3 p.m. --CAL-FIRE'S air tanker fleet is back in the air effective 11 a.m. today, CAL FIRE Battalion Chief Nick Schuler has informed East County Magazine, after inspections found no structural or agfe-related problems.

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 9, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Retired CAL FIRE Chief Chief Bob Robeson called East County Magazine this morning with additional details on the crash that killed a CAL FIRE pilot in Yosemite and grounded CAL-FIRE’s 22 S-2T air tankers including details on backup aircraft available through the federal government.

CRASH GROUNDS 22 CAL-FIRE AIR TANKERS

 

 

East County News Service

October 8, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)—Amid peak fire season, a fatal crash has grounded all of California’s 22 S-2T air tankers, the Los Angeles Times Reports. That’s troubling news in San Diego, where the two worst wildfires in the state’s history both occurred in late October.

Yesterday, an air tanker battling the Dog Rock Fire in Yosemite National Park crashed, killing the pilot.  The cause is not yet known and the tankers will remain grounded until officials deem that they are safe, according to Daniel Berlant with CAL-FIRE.  

The tankers are capable of carrying up to 1,200 gallons of fire retardant each. Temporary grounding of the remaining 22 S-2T tankers leaves CAL-FIRE with 11 UH-1H Super Huey helicopters and 14 OV-10A airtactical aircraft. The aircraft can reach most fires within 20 minutes from 13 air attack and nie Helitack bases statewide, according to CAL FIRE’s website.

FEDERAL AGENCY POSITIONS FIREFIGHTING HELICOPTERS AT VIEJAS AS SANTA ANA WINDS, DROUGHT INCREASE FIRE RISK

 

 

View video:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3c8rQTaZqUCa3pHNUZJaUdNQkk/view

Source: Viejas

October 5, 2014 (Alpine)--The Bureau of Indian Affairs (B.I.A) has moved two of its firefighting helicopters from northern California to the Viejas Indian Reservation in San Diego County to position them for quick response as the wildfire threat increases across Southern California.

The continued drought conditions, extreme heat and Santa Ana winds forecast over the weekend have made San Diego County, and Southern California, ripe for wildfires and have prompted multiple agencies to be on high alert.

SANTA ANA WINDS FORECAST: CAL FIRE ANNOUNCES PREPARATIONS

 

October 1, 2014 (San Diego) – Santa Ana Winds are set to sweep into the area, and CAL FIRE is boosting preparations.

On behalf of CAL FIRE San Diego Unit and County Fire Chief Tony Mecham, I would like to advise you on some of the preparations that are being made in anticipation of the hot dry weather and Santa Ana winds that will be occurring over the next few days,” says Fire Captain and Public Information Officer Kendal E. Bortisser. Those preparations include:

COUNTY BOOSTS FIRE PROTECTION GOING INTO PEAK OF SEASON

 

County News Service

September 24, 2014 (San Diego) --A third firefighting helicopter, pre-positioned ground fire crews during red flag conditions, and contracting for night-flying operations throughout the County were among key upgrades approved by the County Board of Supervisors Tuesday. The steps are aimed at boosting the region’s wildfire resources going into what is expected to be a highly dangerous peak wildfire season. The new permanent helicopter is expected to arrive next year, but the County has already leased a third helicopter until the end of October.

CAL FIRE PROVIDES UPDATE ON FIRES BURNING STATEWIDE

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: King Fire viewed from Lake Tahoe, by Steve Ellsworth, courtesy Cal Fire Blogspot

September 20, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) --Over 7,800 firefighters continue to battle seven major wildfires burning in California, CAL-FIRE reports. Of greatest concern is the King Fire in El Dorado County, which has burned nearly 81,000 acres and continues to threaten 21,000 structures. A suspected arsonist has been arrested for allegedly starting the King Fire.

Overnight, crews made progress on several fires including full containment on the destructive Boles Fire in Siskiyou County and the Silverado Fire in Orange County. Firefighters continue to mop up on several other fires with full containment expected this weekend for the Courtney Fire in Madera County, the June Fire in Mono County and the Meadow Fire in Yosemite National Park.

For details on each of the many fires burning statewide, click "read more" and scroll down.

SAN PASQUAL FIRE DISTRICT SHUT DOWN BY SUPERVISORS

 

 

 

East County News Service

September 17, 2014 (San Pasqual)--The San Pasqual Volunteer Fire Department has been dissolved by the San Diego Board of Supervisors.  Supervisors took the action after a fire board member was caught telling firefighters to steal water from a fire hydrant owned by the city of Poway.  The fire was not needed to fight fires; instead San Pasqual Fire delivered the purloined water to a friend of the board member whose well had run dry.

The board member, Charles Dilts, asked Supervisors to postpone their decision until after fire season is over. But Supervisors refused, citing a Sheriff’s investigation and violation of the public trust by the fire department. San Pasqual’s fire station will now be run by the County Fire Authority, which plans to replace some vehicles.

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