Photo: Fire off Los Coches Road in Lakeside, photo by Beverly Reyes
By Miriam Raftery
May 14, 2014 (San Diego)—San Diego Board of Supervisors Chair Dianne Jacob today declared a countywide emergency due to at least eight fires now burning. A Red Flag alert has been extended through tomorrow night.
Fires are currently burning in Lakeside, Carlsbad, San Marcos, Rancho Bernardo, Bonsall, Escondido, Camp Pendleton and Scripps Ranch.
An evacuation center has been set up at El Capitan High School for 1,300 ordered evacuated in the Wintergardens area of Lakeside. Business Highway 8 from Pepper Drive to Los Coches Road is closed. The fire is now in mop up with no structures lost; evacuations will be lifted at approximately 9 p.m., Chief Andy Parr of Lakeside Fire told ECM.
The County urges people NOT to call the 911 system unless it is a dire emergency. They ask citizens use the 211 system. The 911 system is taxed. One ECM reader reported getting a busy signal trying to call 911 to report the Lakeside fire this afternoon.
Numerous school districts have ordered schools closed tomorrow, including many in East County. Closures include:
May 14, 2014 (San Diego) 12:15 p.m. – High winds continue to fan flames across our region including new fires forcing evacuations in Carlsbad and Camp Pendleton and smaller spot fires in East County.
SDG&E has advised that it intends to shut off power proactively to prevent its lines from sparking more fires, following a powerline fire yesterday in Dulzura.
Supervisor Dianne Jacob issued this statement in response to SDG&E’s announcement. “I’m deeply concerned about any shutoffs because they pose risks to property and life in an emergency, especially in areas where firefighters need access to well water,” said Jacob, who represents East County. “I urge the utility to cut power only as a last resort and only if there's an actual system failure that could ignite a wildfire.”
May 13, 2014 (Campo)--Santa Ana winds fanned a structure fire in Campo into a brush fire that fueled a full wildland fire response. Wind drove the fire to jump across State Route 94, from the south side of the freeway to the north side.
Reports on whether the burned structure was a trailer or shed were conflicting, nor was information provided on whether the structure had been occupied. In this poverty-stricken area, it is not unusual for people to be living in shacks, sheds and trailers.
Randy Surla, an area resident, defied the mandatory evacuation order. “I am staying put,” he explained. “This is the only house I have and I am going to protect it as best as I can.”
Update 10:30 p.m. - All roadsd are now reopened. The fire has burned 850 acres, San Diego Sheriff advises.
Update 8:15 p.m. - Evacuations in this fire have been lifted, the County Emergency website reports.
By Miriam Raftery
May 13, 2014 6:10 p.m.(San Diego)--A fast-burning wildfire has charred an estimated 700 acres and forced evacuation of 20,000 homes in north-central San Diego County, Ron Lane, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer with the County Fire Authority told advised East County Magazine.
An evacuation center is open at Rancho Bernardo High School (13010 Paseo Lucido). An earlier evacuation center at Torrey Pines High School is full.
The blaze, which is 5% contained, is burning west of I-15.
Communities that have been evacuated include portions of Torrey Highlands, Rancho Penasqutios, Black Mountain Ranch, Santa Luz Fairbanks Ranch, outer portions of Rancho Santa Fe and Camino Del Sur, according to Cal Fire.
"Currently, the areas of concern include the Communities of Rancho Santa Fe, Fairbanks Ranch, San Diego, Black Mountain Ranch, Del Mar, Solana Beach and the areas surrounding the SDG&E 230 KV Power Lines," said Cal Fire Captain Kendal Bortisser.
The fire is under unified command of Cal Fire, San Diego Fire, and Rancho Santa Fe Fire Department.
For a full list of areas ordered evacuated, as of late this afternoon, and road closures, click “read more” and scroll down, where tips on preparing for an approaching wildfire are also posted.
Update: Powerlines are down, however resources are now being released.
May 13, 2013 (Dulzura) – Cal-Fire and other units have responded to brush fires on Highway 94 in the Dulzura area. Firefighters are on scene awaiting additional ground support. High winds and proximity of power lines may limit access.
Some residents in the area are without power, SDG&E reports. The outage affects Steele Canyon High School and Jamul School as well as the communities of La Presa/ Spring Valley/ Rancho San Diego/ Jamacha/ W Jamul/ Indian Springs/ Dulzura/ Potrero/ Campo/ Jamul/ N Jamul/ Lyons Valley/ Sunnyside/ Otay.
May 13, 2014 (Jacumba) – Tanya Wilkins Aiau snapped this image a 4:45 p.m. on May 5th of a brush fire near her Jacumba home--a fire that she reported to 911.
“I was just passing the Golden Acorn on east bound I-8 when I saw smoke. I didn't have any cell phone service and couldn't tell exactly where the fire was from that distance,” she said. “When I rounded the corner by the billboard (advertising the Rio Bend RV park) at the West end of Walker Canyon I could see flames. I used a call box to call in the fire; the first firetruck passed me while I was on the phone."
May 10, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)- - The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning from Sunday through Tuesday night for San Diego County’s mountains and valleys. A red flag warning means high fire danger due to strong winds, low humidities and warm temperatures.
A high pressure system along the west coast will bring much warmer and drier conditions along with gusty Santa Ana winds this week, with strongest winds Monday and Tuesday.
May 9, 2014 (Mount Laguna) -- CAL FIRE investigators have determined that the July 6, 2013 Chariot Fire southwest of Julian was caused by a Jeep Wrangler owned and operated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which ignited the dry vegetation under the vehicle. The CAL FIRE finding confirms allegations previously made by an attorney representing fire victims, who had indicated a private investigation had revealed evidence that a BLM Jeep started the blaze.
The Chariot Fire started just before 1 p.m. in eastern San Diego County near Butterfield Ranch Resort and the Great Southern Overland Stage Route on land managed by the BLM. The fire burned 7,055 acres on both federal and public lands and destroyed 149 structures, including a historic lodge, cabins at the Shrine Camp, and others. Over 2,100 firefighters battled the fire during the 10 days it took to contain the blaze.
Photo: Interior Secretary Sally Jewell thanks a Golden Eagle hotshot firefighter from the Bureau of Indian Affairs
By Nadin Abbott
Photos by Nadin and Tom Abbott
May 8, 2014 (Spring Valley) The number of fires this year is higher than normal. Interstate 8 has closed due to fires twice already this year during the Gun Fire at Mount Laguna and the Jacumba fire just this week. Drought and climate change are key factors, officials warn—and this could be our worse wildfire season on record.
“The drought is expanding throughout the state of California” as well as the Southwest region, said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell during a Wildfire Awareness Week event at CAL FIRE Headquarters in Spring Valley on May 6th.
She cited a new report just issued by the White House, noting that climate change “increases the risk from drought.”
CAL FIRE Encourages Wildfire Preparedness and Prevention
May 8, 2014 (Sacramento) – Drought conditions have led to a significant increase in wildfire activity and to ensure Californians are ready, Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. has declared May 4-10, 2014 as “Wildfire Awareness Week”. CAL FIRE is reminding residents during Wildfire Awareness Week of the dangers posed by wildfires and the simple steps that should be followed to prepare for and prevent them.
May 5, 2014 (Jacumba) A series of brush fires broke out on the side of the interstate about 4:30. The fire was initially reported as a single start, but soon it was clear that it was at least three starts. The fire is on the north side of Interstate eight half a mile east of McCain Valley Road.
May 2, 2014 (San Diego) -- Where you live in the City of San Diego affects how quickly emergency response teams can bring help to you when you need it, according to a report just issued by the 2013/2014 San Diego County Grand Jury.
Photos by Daren Sefcik, Jeff Holz, and Delia Cooley
May 3, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Multiple fires along I-8 broke out this morning between East Willows Road and Japatul this morning, as ourViejasAlerts reported earlier. The fires are believed to have been caused by a malfunctioning catalytic converter from a vehicle.
The largest forced closure of a viewpoint in Japatul and charred 12-14 acres.
May 1, 2014 (Spring Valley) – A brush fire along State Route 125 near Jamacha Boulevard in Spring Valley led to evacuations of several home along Elkelton Boulevard near Sweetwater Reservoir this afternoon.
The blaze charred about two acres and scorched a shed before firefighters brought it under control with help from a water-dropping helicopter. Animal Control was called to assist with pigs behind one of the homes, a witness stated.
April 29, 2014 (Sacramento)-- With gusty dry winds forecast for Southern California, CAL FIRE has increased its staffing and is urging the public to be extra cautious as fire danger heightens. The Weather Service has issued a Fire Weather Watch for many areas in Southern California starting Tuesday for high winds with gusts of 55 mph along with low humidity lasting through Thursday.
April 29, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)-- The day started with smoke in the far East County, near Jacumba on Old Highway 80. Cal Fire responded only to find a structure fire on the other side of the border fence. Per the incident commander, the structure was fully involved and crews remained on scene to make sure it did not pose a threat. Since the house had good clearance, there was no threat to vegetation, or the United States.
The second fire was in Ramona. It was a compost fire at Dye Street south of Ramona Street. It was extinguished in short order.
The third and most serious was near the Carlton Hills Golf Course in Santee. A parking lot at Carlton Hills Southern Baptist Church became the Incident Command Post for the blaze, which briefly threatened apartments nearby.
Update 5 p.m. A new fire is reported in the Carlton Hills area of Santee. For timely updates visit www.Twitter.com and follow ViejasAlerts. As of 5:30 p.m., 5 acres have burned in Santee from a blaze that started in the San Diego River bed. Forward spread was stopped at the Carlton Hills golf course with help from four helicopters droping water before the fire reached 125. Fences were burned but no structures were damaged. There were no injuries.
The Ramona fire has been extinguished.
April 29, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – A full wildland response by Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service has been ordered for a vegetation fire that reportedly began in a compost pile in Ramona. Heartland Fire is also on the scene.
April 26, 2014 (Mount Laguna) – Cal Fire and the federal government have not released reports on the official cause of the Chariot Fire, which scorched over 7,000 acres and destroyed more than 100 buildings including a historic lodge and the century-old Al Bahr Shrine Camp. Now attorney John Fiske, who represents fire victims, says he has filed a claim against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
Just how effective is the new County Fire Authority at fire protection? While some areas have improved since the 2003 and 2007 wildfires,Craig Williams, an information technology specialist with Campo Fire Department shares shocking details on fire stations unmanned across our backcountry—and what could be done to keep rural residents safe.
- Golfers join Lakeside Firefighters to raise money to fund afterschool programs for East County youth -
April 15, 2014 (Lakeside)--On Tuesday, May 6, the Lakeside Firefighter’s Association will host the First Annual Lakeside Firefighters Golf Tournament at Cottonwood Golf Course benefitting Stoney’s Kids, an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that funds programs that help East County children develop skills, self-esteem and confidence.
April 11, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) -- In 2007, when devastating wildfires ripped through San Diego County, John Hartman and his family were left without a home. But the fires took more than replaceable items; they also separated the family from their dog, Buddy.
Chaparral Institute objects to ordinance due to potential environmental impacts and possible abuse of citizens' rights
By Miriam Raftery
April 5, 2014 (San Miguel) San Miguel Fire Board meets on April 9 at 5:30 in the fire station at 2850 Via Orange Way in Spring Valley. This week the board will consider an ordinance allowing the board to declare waste and certain vegetation a public nuisance – including potentially the majority of native vegetation in the district.
Photos above: Sign amid charred terrain reads, "As these habitats recover from fire, a colorful variety of bird liife will return."
By Miriam Raftery
March 28, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – One month after a controlled burn at Cuyamaca sparked controversy, as ECM reported , the State Park Service has failed to answer any of our questions. Two elected officials have issued statements supportive of burn policies despite mature pines and cedars being torched in a park an estimated 99% of its mature pines to the 2003 Cedar Fire, which charred 95% of the entire park.
But new photos taken after the burn reveal that the fire also burned d15-foot-tall saplings planted after the Cedar Fire, foot bridges, and a “habitat restoration” area for wildlife replanted as part of reforestation efforts after the Cedar Fire.
Cal Fire has insisted that the burn did not jump out of control, though local cabin owner Craig Maxwell says a state park ranger told him it did. But if firefighters did not lose control of the burn, this raises an even more troubling question: Why would State Park officials charged with protecting our public parks order the destruction of some of the last remaining mature pines and cedars, as well as plantings established to replaced what burned in 2003?
Moreover, this region has also been decimated by oak-boring beetles that have killed thousands of trees locally, making protection of what remains even more critical.
March 24, 2014 (Spring Valley) - A new, primary Incident Command Vehicle is now in service within the San Miguel Fire District, thanks to an award from Barona and Sycuan Casinos. The $45,000 grant covered 68 % of the total vehicle cost. That cost included Required Code 3 Equipment, VHF & 800mgz Radios and Installation. The total cost of the Command Vehicle was $65,000. The remainder of the cost came from the District’s Vehicle Replacement fund.
March 24, 2014 (Alpine) - The San Diego County Fire Chiefs and the Viejas band of the Kumeyaay nation will be conducting their annual Fire Preparedness Exercise on April 3rd , 4th and 7th on the Viejas Indian reservation.
March 9, 2013 (East County)-- Multiple resources responded to a brush fire Sunday afternoon with multiple ignition sources locations at Highway 94 and Barrett Junction on Sunday. The blaze approximately an acre and had four start-up points, including one over an old burn.
Update March 9, 2014 -- The fire has burned 125 acres and is 30% contained according to the Incident page set up for the Gun Fire:http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3783/ . The wind advisory has been upgraded to a wind warning with gusts up to 70 mph on ridges possible.
March 8, 2014 (Mt Laguna) A fire that started around 1 p.m. in the afternoon in the Kitchen Creek area in Cleveland National Forest spread to 75-100 acres. The blaze was 5 percent containment by 4:40 p.m. with no estimate yet for full containment.
A wind advisory has been issued for tomorrow and ECM news partner 10 News reports that crews could be battling this fire for days. Sustained winds of 15-30 mph with gusts up to 55 mph are forecast.
Power is out to more than 500 residences in Japatul Valley, Buckman Springs, Morena Village, Guatay, Pine Valley and Mount Laguna due to a power shut off to protect firefightings working closer to powerlines. SDG&E estimates power will be restored at 5:30 a.m. Sunday.