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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.

FROM THE FIRE CHIEF'S CORNER: SILVERADO FIRE WARNING

 

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

September 14, 2014 (Southern California)--“The Silverado Fire in Orange County should serve as a reminder of things to come with extreme fire danger reminds Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. A weak high pressure system had driven temperatures up and humidity levels down which are indicators Fall is upon us. This fire grew from hundreds of acres to over a thousand in a very short amount of time. Fortunately we did not have the fierce Santa Ana winds driving this fire or we’d likely be working this fire to the ocean.”

WILDFIRES SCORCH FEDERAL FORESTS ACROSS PARCHED STATE

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy of CAL-FIRE

September 13, 2014 (Cleveland National Forest) – Over 200 homes are under evacuation orders in Silverado Canyon in Orange County due to the Silverado Fire burning in the Cleveland National Forest. The blaze, which started yesterday, has scorched over 1,500 acres. Other fires are also taking a heavy toll on federal public lands.

Firefighting resources are battling blazes in Yosemite National Park as well as Klamath, Sequoia, Lassen, and Shasta-Trinity National Forests. Fueled by tinder-dry conditions amid the worst drought in memory, the fires have collectively burned over a quarter of  a million acres—and it’s only September.

EVACUATIONS IN YOSEMITE DUE TO WILDFIRE

 

Photo courtesy National Park Service: Merced River with Half Dome in background

EVACUATIONS IN YOSEMITE DUE TO WILDFIRE

By Miriam Raftery

September 8, 2014 (Yosemite)--A wildfire burning in Yosemite National Park has forced closure of some of the Park’s most popular trails. Strong winds have whipped the fire into a 700 acre conflagration that on Sunday forced evacuation of over 100 hikers and climbers, including 40 on the trail to Half Dome, some airlifted out by helicopter.

BRUSH FIRE IN DESCANSO HALTED AT 8 ACRES

 

August 24, 2014 (Descanso) – A wildland fire in Descanso on Sunday briefly threatened structures. The blaze started in light, flashy fuels near the Descanso Library at River Drive and Viejas Boulevard.

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

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