Wildfire News

FLOODING, FIRES, POWER OUTAGES AS STORM SWEEPS ACROSS EAST COUNTY

 

 

East County News Service

Photo: View from Lyons Peak, Jamul, courtesy UCSD HP Wren webcam

Update 3:30 p.m. -

  • Mudslide across roadway: Highland Valley and Archie Moore roads, Ramona, CHP site reports
  • Hellhole Canyon Preserve: Vegetation fire, North County, per scanner
  • Lightning fire on hillside, Bancroft and Campo Rd. reported, scanner and CHP

June 30, 2015 (Lakeside) 2:40 p.m. - Thunder, lightning and heavy fires are sparking multiple emergency responses across East County. Here are highlights within the past hour:

  • Flooding is reporting in Alpine at Tavern and East Willow Road exits.
  • A fire was reported at 94 near Shockey Truck Trail.
  • Fire crews have also been dispatched to Kitchen Creek near Cameron Truck Trail, per scanner traffic.
  • An earlier fire on Highway 67 near Slaughterhouse Canyon is out, halted at about 3 acres.
  • Power lines are down and a power pole reported leaning across the roadway at Dye Road in Ramona.
  • SDG&E reports power outages in Eastlake/Otay are impacting 171 customers with restoration estimated at 6:30 p.m.
  • A larger outage is affected 623 households in Dulzura, Potrero, Campo, Japatul Valley, Buckman Springs, And Morena Village areas with rsetoration estimated for 4:30 p.m.

DRONE GROUNDED FIRE FIGHTING PLANES BATTLING CA FIRESTORMS

 

CAL-FIRE ISSUES WARNING TO DRONE OPERATORS, UPDATES ON FIRES

By Miriam Raftery

June 26, 2015 (San Diego)—With wildfires raging across California, an unmanned hobby drone interfered with firefighting aerial drops yesterday on the Sterling Fire in San Bernadino Fire.  According to CAL-FIRE Captain Kendal Bortisser, this is the second time in two days that a drone has halted air drops. The near-misses have prompted CAL-FIRE to issue this stern warning to hobby drone users: “If you fly, we can’t!”

CAL FIRE, MILITARY STAND BY IN READINESS FOR LIGHTINING FIRES

 

By Miriam Raftery

File photo by Jim Pelley: Vallecitos Lightning Fire

June 26, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – CAL FIRE Captain Kendal Bortisser and County Fire Chief Tony Mecham advise that a plan is in place to ensure additional fire protection for the San Diego region in anticipation of dry thunderstorms and lightning predicted to move through Southern California this weekend.

THUNDER, LIGHTNING, HIGH WINDS FORECAST: HIGH FIRE DANGER

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 24, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Thunderstorms capable of heavy downpours, gusty winds and lightning strikes may hit our mountain and desert regions starting this weekend. The storms are forecast from Saturday through Tuesday, mainly in the afternoons and evenings.

WILDFIRES RAGING ACROSS WEST: CAL-FIRE CALLS CONDITIONS WORST ON RECORD

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: California Department of Forestry & Fire (CAL FIRE)

June 24, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – As firefighters battle wildfires across four states, CAL FIRE officials have warned that in this fourth year of drought, 2015 has the worst fire conditions in record. As of today, CAL-FIRE is fighting seven major wildfires in our state.

PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD OPEN ON PROPOSED CLOSURE OF HAZARDOUS LEAK MITIGATION IN SPRING VALLEY

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 24, 2015 (Spring Valley ) – San Miguel Fire Protection Agency has sent a letter notifying the Spring Valley Planning Group that the County intends to close its case on contamination from underground leaking storage tanks at 905 Gillespie Drive in Spring Valley.  The proposal would leave petroleum hydrocarbon elements in the soil to degrade by natural processes under the state’s “Low-Threat Closure Policy.”

Public comments will be accepted from June 27 through  August 31st.

The fire district removed underground fuel storage tanks at its fire station on the site, Kevin Healy with the County's Enviornmental Health department advised East County Magazine. Under the state's policy, the contaminants can be left in place to degrade naturally if they are found to not pose a human health risk or adversely impact beneficial uses of surface water or groundwater.

MERCADO FIRE UNDER CONTROL

By Paul Kruze

Video with permission of Mike Anderson.

June 19, 2015 (Rancho San Diego)--A full contingent of CAL-FIRE and San Diego County firefighters were called to fight a smoky 15-acre fire near State Highway 94 and Jamacha Blvd. that broke out Friday afternoon. The highway was closed to traffic in both directions until the fire reached 85 percent containment at 6:30 p.m.

A Sheriff’s Bomb/Arson Unit is investigating. Although an SDG&E substation was lightly damaged in the fire, power to about 20,000 homes was not affected. A man and a woman observed leaving an area known as a homeless encampment in the burn area have been detained for questioning, though no charges have be filed at this time.

LAKE FIRE IN SAN BERNADINO COUNTY ENGULFS 10,000 ACRES

 

Update June 20, 2015:  This fire has scorched over 16,500 acres and is 15% contained.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: 29 Palms Fire Department

June 18, 2015 (San Bernadino) – If you're seeing smoke from northeast San Diego County, you're likely viewing the Lake Fire. Over 1,200 firefighters are battling the Lake Fire along the northern boundary of the San Gorgonio Wilderness in San Bernadino National Forest. The firestorm has drawn numerous resources including 88 fire engines, 2 air tankers, 10 helicopters and 28 fire crews—meaning mutual support could be spread thin should fires break out in other regions.

The blaze is only 5 percent contained as of this evening and has forced numerous evacuations as well as relocation of Big Bear High School’s graduation ceremony.

FIRE CREWS BATTLE FIRE IN LAKESIDE'S WILDCAT CANYON

 

Update June 19, 2015 5 p.m. -- The fire is 170 acres and is now 68% contained, Cal Fire advises.

Update June 18, 2015 12 p.m. -- A firefighter has been injured, NBC news reports, as firefighters continue holding the blaze in rugged terrain. 

Update June 18, 2015  8 a.m. -- Cal-Fire now estimates the fire is at 178 acres and 38% contained.  Firefighters worked through the night with headlamps in steep terrain.  Wildcat Canyon Road is open in both directions and homes are no longer threatened at this time.

Update 9 p.m. -- The fire has burned 150 acres and is 10% contained.  Temperature is 75 degrees and humidity is 54%; the rate of spread is now slow.  Hundreds of firefighters are battling the blaze including Cal-Fire, the U.S. Forest Service, Heartland and Barona. Wildcat Canyon Rd. remains closed from Founder's Way to San Vicente Road, Cal-Fire advises.  The County Office of Emergency Services and the American Red Cross are also now involved.

Update 6:45 p.m. - Cal Fire spokesman Kendal Bortisser has advised  that the fire has potential for 500 acres, though Cal Fire hopes to contain it at 50 acres.  Fire is 10% contained, incident commander estimates. Residents report heavy smoke and poor air quality. The Sheriff has evacuated 7 homes but no others are currently threatened. Those evacuated are sheltering at the Barona Casino. View live-streaming video on Fox 5 at http://fox5sandiego.com/on-air/live-streaming/.

Update 6:02 p.m. The road closure has been moved to south of the Barona Casino to give people access to the casino, CHP reports.  U.S. Forest Service Crews, Cal Fire and Barona firefighters are battling the blaze

Photo  by Shannon Cervantes: fire with Barona Casino in foreground

June 17, 2015 (Lakeside) - A brush fire is burning in Lakeside early this evening on the Barona reservation near Wildcat Canyon Road. The fire, reported about 4:50 p.m. near Acuunya Way., is northeast of the casino and moving northeast toward a glider port. Cal Fire estimateed the blaze at 20 acres but a retired fire official in the area has estimated that the fire has swelled to 40 or 50 acres.

Structures are immediately threatened and the blaze is spreading rapidly, according to Cal-Fire. Wildcat Canyon Road is closed due to the fire from San Vicente Road to just south of the casino. Fixed wing aircraft and helicopters are battling the fire, ECM news partner 10 News reports.

Multiple news outlets report the Sheriff has evacuated several residences in the Acuuunya Way area.

SAN DIEGO REGIONAL FIRE FOUNDATION PROVIDES $276,000 GRANT TO COUNTY FOR COMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENT FOR RURAL FIRE DEPARTMENTS

 

June 9, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)—The San Diego County Board of Supervisors today accepted a donation of $276,000 from the San Diego Regional Fire Foundation for the purchase of  80 AVL (automatic vehicle locator) equipment for rural San Diego fire departments.

FIRE INSURANCE RATES FOR HOMEOWNERS, BUSINESS TO DROP IN HEARTLAND FIRE DISTRICT—THANKS TO DISTRICT ATTAINING “RARE” TOP NATIONAL RATING

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Heartland Fire & Rescue Chief Rick Sitta delivers good news at El Cajon Council meeting

June 9, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – If you live in the cities of El Cajon, La Mesa or Lemon Grove, your fire insurance rates will soon be going down. That’s because Heartland Fire & Rescue, which provides firefighting services for all three cities, has received a class 1 rating from the Insurance Services Office (ISO).   

The  ISO rates 47,000 fire departments across the United States and of those, only 98 have attained a class 1 rating, including only 8 fire districts in the entire state of California.  “Class 1 communities are very rare, and some of these scores are the highest we’ve ever seen,” says Stephanie Ruscansky from the ISO, who notes that only a small fraction of 1% of all agencies rated attain a Class 1 rating.

NEW FIRE STATION OPENS IN BOULEVARD

 

 

East County News Service

June 6, 2015 (Boulevard) – Last week, a brand new fire station opened in Boulevard.  The $3.5 million, 8,000 square foot facility replaces an older station across the street. Capable of housing up to six vehicles, the new fire station is the first to house County Fire Authority reserves along with Cal Fire firefighters and a paramedic unit under one roof.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who led efforts to secure funding, was on site for a ribbon cutting along with Boulevard Planning Group Chair Donna Tisdale, Cal-Fire Chief Tony Mecham and other local dignitaries.

CAL FIRE SUSPENDS OUTDOOR RESIDENTIAL BURNING

 

June 3, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) -- As drought conditions continue to increase fire danger in the region, CAL FIRE has suspended all burn permits for outdoor open residential burning within the State Responsibility Area of San Diego and Imperial Counties. This suspension takes effect June 1, 2015 and bans all residential outdoor burning of landscape debris including branches and leaves.

GOATS ARE BAAAAA-CK: CLEARING BRUSH IN LEMON GROVE

Source: Heartland Fire and Rescue

May 29, 2015 (Lemon Grove)--The City of Lemon Grove, along with its fire department, Heartland Fire & Rescue, is taking steps to clear brush from 8 and a half acres near Lawton Drive and Camino De Las Palmas. Goats are being used as part of the process in clearing heavy brush to minimize fire danger and help create defensible space for homes in this area.

“This type of brush abatement is a tremendous help to firefighters in protecting land and nearby homes from fast moving brush fires during our summer months and the long fire season we live with in San Diego County” says Heartland Fire Chief Rick Sitta.

The company being used for this project in Lemon Grove is Environmental Land Management (ELM), the same company that was used in El Cajon to create the defensible space in 2011 that assisted in the protection of several homes from a brush fire.

DEFENSIBLE SPACE IN THE DROUGHT

East County News Service

May 28, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Creating defensible space around your home is more important than ever amid the drought.  But that doesn’t mean hacking down landscaping to bare earth.  Now Cal-Fire has posted information on plants that are fire resistant and drought tolerant. These ideal choices not only provide color and beauty with minimal water – they also provide a safe area for firefighters to operate and increase the odds that your home will survive a wildfire.  

For details, click “read more” and scroll down, or visit http://www.ReadyForWildfire.org/landscape_ideas.

RURAL AND PINE VALLEY FIRE DISTRICTS JOIN COUNTY FIRE AUTHORITY

County News Service

May 14, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Shortly after the release of a grand jury report that commends the County for making significant improvements to rural firefighting by unifying a patchwork of independent agencies, the Board of Supervisors approved a series of administrative steps toward bringing two more rural fire districts under the umbrella of the County Fire Authority.

JULIAN ARTS & CRAFTS FAIR SUPPORTS FIRE DISTRICT

 

By Cathy Ozbun, Julian Fire Plugs

May 2, 2015 (Julian) - On Saturday, May 23th, the Julian Fire Plugs will be hosting the Julian Arts & Crafts Fair. The fair will be held in the Rabobank parking lot at 2033 Main Street in Julian, from 10:00 am until  4:00 pm and will showcase work by many local artists, crafters and artisans from Julian and other nearby communities.

SEE SMOKE? LIVE FIRE TRAINING THIS WEEK IN JAMUL AREA

April 27, 2015 (Jamul)--CAL FIRE in conjunction with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will be conducting live firefighting training and habitat improvement in the Rancho Jamul Area.  This vegetation management project will also include the burning of non-native grasses. 

The training is scheduled to begin on Tuesday morning, April 27 and last through Friday afternoon, April 30th  if weather permits. Several fire crews will be present while burning is conducted.

CALIFORNIA FIRE AGENCIES ROLL OUT ONLINE CAMPFIRE PERMIT

 

Fire Prevention Urged for Memorial Day Weekend

April 19, 2015 (Sacramento) -- As Californians make their Memorial Day weekend and summer vacation plans, CAL FIRE and federal fire agencies want to ensure vacationers obtain necessary campfire permits and learn how to have a campfire safely.

The California Wildfire Coordination Group (CWCG) has unveiled a new fire prevention website, www.PreventWildfireCA.org , which for the first time offers an online campfire permit section.

“The new online system makes it easier for Californians to get a permit, while still taking the time to learn  how to have a campfire safely,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director. “It is critical that a responsible adult be in attendance of your campfire at all times and that it is completely extinguished before you leave to avoid sparking a wildfire. One less spark means one less wildfire.”

SHERIFF ADDS HELICOPTER TO GROWING FLEET

 

By Chris Jennewein

Reposted with permission from Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo: The San Diego Sheriff’s new Bell 407GX patrol helicopter

April 12, 2015 (San Diego)--San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore and other county officials unveiled a new $4.8 million patrol helicopter, bringing the agency’s fleet to eight with a ninth on the way later this year.

FIRE CHARS MOTORHOME AND VEHICLES IN SANTEE

 

Photo courtesy of Heartland Fire & Rescue

April 8, 2015 (Santee) - A fire that began at a towing yard on Pioneer Way in Santee Monday evening spread to a nearby deli, NBC news reports.  The two-alarm blaze destroyed a motorhome and several other vehicles.

SAN MIGUEL BOARD VOTES TO BUY 2 FIRE ENGINES, MOVE FORWARD ON COUNTY TAKEOVER OF TRAINING FACILITY

 

By Paul Kruze

April 10, 2015 (Spring Valley)--In spite of tight finances and the looming possibility of a separation and divorce from CALFIRE, the San Miguel Fire Board of Directors majority went forward with a staff recommendation to purchase two new fire engines at its March 11th meeting.  The Board also took action on the County's proposal to takeover an unfinished training facility that has languished due to lack of funds.

DROUGHT DRIES UP WATER SOURCES FOR FIREFIGHTING

 

East County News Service

Photo: Once brimming with water, the eastern portion of Lake Morena is bone dry.

April 9, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – The drought is shrinking ponds and lakes across East County—and Cal-Fire is concerned about the loss of water for fighting fires.

CAL FIRE ENDS NO-BURN PROCLAMATION

Update April 5, 2015 (San Diego's East County) -- Cal Fire has ended the no-burn proclamation due to improving conditions, higher humidity and availability of fire resources..

April 4, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Effective immediately, Cal Fire has issued a no-burn proclamation suspending burning permits and other uses of open fire, except for campfires in established campfire facilities in public campgrounds.

The order is due to the “extreme menace” posed by critical fire weather and acute dryness of vegetation and/or fire suppression forces being heavily committed to control fires, according to Dave Nissan, Deputy Chief of Cal-Fire’s San Diego unit.

13-YEAR-OLD FOUND GUILTY OF STARTING COCOS FIRE

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Wikipedia Commons courtesy of SamBoy

March 25, 2015 (San Diego)—The Cocos Fire charred nearly 2,000 acres and burned down dozens of homes in San Marcos and Harmony Grove in May 2014.  On Wednesday, Judge Howard Shore ruled that a 13-year-old girl was responsible for intentionally and maliciously starting the devastating blaze.

NBC’S DATELINE TO AIR SPECIAL ON CEDAR FIRE ON SUNDAY, MARCH 8

 

Update: Video link to full episode of Dateline Escape: The Great California Fire that aired March 8:

http://www.nbc.com/dateline/video/dateline-escape-wildfires/2849489?onid=209511#vc209511=1

March 7, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – This Sunday at 9 p.m., NBC TV will air a special edition of Dateline called “Escape: The Great California Fire.” 

NBC Sports’ Josh Elliott will host the special hour with survivors of the Cedar Fire, who will chronicle their stories of survival before and after the 2003 Cedar Fire, the worst firestorm in California history.

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