Wildfire News

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.

WILDFIRES' TOLL ASSESSED

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.

ALL NIGHT HAPPY HOUR TO BENEFIT SAN DIEGO FIRE RELIEF

ANIMAL SERVICES RESCUES DOZENS OF ANIMALS FROM WILDFIRES

 

May 22, 2014 (San Diego's East County) - Nearly all the animals rescued by the County Department of Animal Services during the recent wildfires are back home with their owners.  Animal Services rescued more than 50 animals when fires broke out across our region last week. In all six cats, four goats, 18 dogs, 21 horses, an emu and a bird were taken in to the department’s care. Only three cats remain. Animal Control officers also helped a couple dozen owners evacuate their horses to locations other than the shelters. Officers evacuated between 40 and 50 head of cattle from just one ranch alone.

COUNTY LAUNCHES RECOVERY ASSISTANCE HOTLINE AND EMAIL ADDRESS

"Update: San Marcos Office Closed"

May 21, 2014 (San Diego)--Unincorporated County residents affected by the wildfires can get help from the County in person and now via a recovery assistance hotline and email address, too.

INSURANCE INFO FOR FIRE SURVIVORS

 

May 18, 2014 (San Diego) – Senator Joel Anderson’s office has provided a helpful list of insurer claim contacts for those who lost homes, businesses or property, or suffered damage as a result of the past week’s firestorms in San Diego County. In addition, Senator Anderson’s office has provided links to information on how to conduct a home inventory, tips for homeowners and renters on dealing with a YouTube 10-minute evacuation challenge.  Click read more and scroll down for details.

USAA RECOGNIZES VALUE OF FIREWISE PROGRAM TO HELP PROTECT CALIFORNIA NEIGHBORHOODS

 

One of the first insurers to provide policyholder discounts in California

May 17, 2014 -- The California Department of Insurance announced this week that USAA policyholders living in recognized Firewise Communities/USA® sites in California will receive discounts on their homeowners insurance premiums. USAA, which provides a full range of financial products and services to the military community and their families, has been working with the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Wildland Fire Operations Division for several years to investigate the possibility of providing incentives for residents of wildfire-prone areas to take steps to create safer, more fire-adapted communities. NFPA’s Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program provided the community action framework and local data that enabled USAA to offer this new discount to policyholders.

COCOS FIRE 80% CONTAINED, DESTROYS 39 HOMES

 

By Miriam Raftery

May 17, 2014 (San Diego County) – The last fire still burning in San Diego County’s unincorporated areas is now 80% contained. The Cocos fire has taken a heavy toll, destroying 39 homes and 7 commercial buildings.  Another 35 structures remain threatened by the blaze.

Today, residents of Harmony Grove were allowed to return home. Evacuations remain in effect tonight for the San Marcos-Coronado hills Community.

NEW APP FOR MOTORISTS PROVIDES REAL-TIME INFO AND ROAD-CLOSURES

 

May 17, 2014 (San Diego's East County) -- Having timely information on road conditions and closures can be crucial, particularly during evacuations during wildfires or other emergencies.  Now a new, free app called Waze gives motorists the ability to access real-time traffic and road information provided by thousands of drivers or "wazers" in the region--meaning you potentially could get info before announcements have been made by California Highway Patrol or Cal-Trans.

UPDATE ON COCOS AND HIGHWAY FIRES

 

By Miriam Raftery

May 17, 2014 (San Diego County)—CAL-FIRE reports that the Highway Fire is now 100% contained, with no structures lost and cost to date of $843,796 for firefighting.

The Cocos Fire is now 70% contained after threatening 1,500 structures and destroying 8 single family homes and a multi-family residence.  Cause remains under investigation and the cost to date of firefighting is nearly $3 million.  There are 1,269 personnel on the scene as well as 162 engines, 27 fire crews, 2 helicopters and 1 water tender,  as well as 11 bulldozers and other equipment.

FIRE IN SANTEE/SYCAMORE CANYON AREA

 

Update 10:15 a.m. - Forward spread of this fire has been stopped at 30 acres, CAl FIRE Captain Kendal Bortisser reports.  The fire burned to Friars and 163, per ECM reporter Nadin Abbott. This fire has been under unified command of CAL FIRE, Santee Fire and Miramar Fire.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Mike Schoonover

May 17, 2014 (Santee) 9:15 a.m. – A brush fire is burning in  the Sycamore Canyon/Santee area in rugged terrain accessible by hand crews and brush trucks; aerial resources have been dispatched.  The fire is now two to three acres. Smoke is visible from State Route 125. 

If you are in this area and have eyewitness information please share in the comments section below.  You can also send photos to editor@eastcountymagazine.org.

COUNTY OPENS CENTER TO AID COCOS FIRE VICTIMS; NEW FIRE TONIGHT ON CAMP PENDLETON AS FIREFIGHTERS GAIN CONTROL OF MAJOR BLAZES

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy Supervisor Dave Roberts

May 16, 2014 (San Diego) 8 p.m. –Firefighters have made major strides toward containing what is now known as the San Diego Complex fires across our region, thanks to major air power and reduced winds.

All told, the fires have required 1,323 firefighting personnel including 164 engines, 27 fire crews, 5 fixed-wing aircraft, 10 helicopters and more, CAL-FIRE reports this evening.  Multilpe agencies and the Sycuan Fire Department's Golden Eagles hotshot team from East County were also deployed to help battle the blaze.

But a new fire tonight, the Combat Fire on Camp Pendleton is burning on the northwest part of the base, prompting evacuations including the San Onofre Housing area and School of Infantry. In addition the Las Pulgas Fire is over 8,000 acres and is 5 percent contained on the base, where the Tomahawk Fire scorched another 6300 acres and is 23 percent contained.

For other fires, those within the CAL-FIRE service area, visit http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incidents_current  or scroll down and click "read more."

HELP NEEDED FOR SENIOR WHO LOST TRAILER HOME IN CAMPO FIRE: FUNDRAISER MAY 26 IN LAKESIDE

 

By Miriam Raftery

May 16, 2014 (Campo)—Jerry Weber lost everything in a fire that destroyed his trailer and all his belongings on May 13 in Campo. He has no fire insurance, relies on his Social Security income, and has both diabetes and a heart condition, according to Maria Amaya.

“He’s been my customer for many years,” said Amaya, who is accepting donated items for Weber at Angelous Barber Shop and Beauty Salon in Campo.  The greatest need, however, is a trailer for him to live in.

Weber is presently living in his car despite 100 degree temperatures, determined to remain on his property, Amaya said. He has no water on site, nor electrictiy.

In addition, a fundraiser to benefit Weber will be held on Monday, May 26 at the Bucking DeLorian restaurant in Lakeside. The restaurant will donate 15% of proceeds and is also encouraging the public to bring donations of food, clothing, household goods, toiletries and funds. For details on how you can help, click "read more" and scroll down.

JOINT ARSON TASK FORCE SEEKS INFO ON WILDFIRES

 

 

May 16, 2014 (San Diego) – A Joint Arson Task Force has been established to determine the origin and cause of the many fires throughout San Diego County this week.  If you have any information regarding the fires, please call San Diego Crime Stoppers at 619-235-TIPS, that’s 619-235-8477.  You can remain anonymous and  reward may be offered if information leads to a conviction.

ARSON ARRESTS MADE IN ESCONDIDO AS FIREFIGHTERS GAIN GROUND ON BLAZES

 

 

Update 12 p.m.  The Poinsettia Fire in Carlsbad is now 100% contained.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy ECM news partner 10 News

May 16, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)  9 a.m. --Escondido Police have arrested  Isaiah Silva, 19, and a juvenile for arson, U-T San Diego reports.  The arrests came after a citizen reporting seeing two people start a fire in a field near South Escondido Boulevard and another citizen reporting seeing arsonists start a blaze at Kit Carson Park.  However, Lt. Mike Kearney has stated that the two suspects are not believed to have started any of the major wildfires currently burning in San Diego County.

Cause of the other fires countywide remain undetermined.  There has been speculation in some media outlets of arson but officials have indicated the causes remain under investigation.  An arson strike force has been assembled to investigate the fires.

Over 121,000 evacuation notices have been sent by officials and hundreds stayed in shelters overnight as numerous fires burned across the region.

Below are updates on the major fires.

CHALDEAN CHAMBER LAUNCHES MATCHING FUND TO HELP FIRE VICTIMS

 

 

 

May 16, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – The Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce in East County has created a fund to help those who were evacuated during the 2014 wildfires in San Diego County.

“We all have to do our part,” said Ben Kalasho, president of the Chamber. “If we raise $5,000 I will match that contribution with $5,000 of my own.”

To make a donation, visit  http://www.gofundme.com/98nxgo

EVACUATIONS IN ESCONDIDO AREA AS COCOS FIRE SPREADS EASTWARD

 

Update 10 p.m. : Officers in Escondido have detained a juvenile and an adult near the scene of a fire , 10 News reports. A shelter has been opened at Escondido High School as the Cocos Fire continues ravaging North County, only 5% contained after charring 1,200 acres thus far.

In addition, a fatality is now reported in Carlsbad from the Poinsettia Fire.

Evacuation orders have been lifted in Carlsbad, Pendleton and Fallbrook, the County Emergency site reports.

The Bernardo Fire is now 75% at 15,048 acres and the Highway Fire is 100% contained at 380 acres. 

By Miriam Raftery

May 15, 2014 (Escondido)—The fast-moving Cocos Fire that has burned over 1,200 acres and destroyed several homes south of State Route 78 remains only 5% contained during the second day of the conflagration. Evacuations have been ordered in Escondido, where U-T San Diego reports some homes have been lost.

Numerous  road closures are in effect as of 5 p.m., the County Emergency Services Department reports. View list of road closures, including a portion of the Del Dios Highway due to evacuations: http://www.sdcountyemergency.com/updates/cocos-fire-road-closures-05-15-14-1659/  Flames scorched hillsides behind Cal State San Marcos today, where graduation has been cancelled.

Smoke checks in several East County communities today prompted brief concerns, but none grew into major fires.  The problem areas for firefighters remain blazes scorching across North County.  

SCHOOL CLOSURE UPDATES FOR FRIDAY, MAY 16

 

Update: Grossmont Union High School District schools will be open, though CIF sports events remain cancelled.

By Miriam Raftery

May 15, 2014 (San Diego)--The safety and security of students, faculty, and staff is of the upmost importance to schools across the county, the County Office of Education’s website states. As the current wildfires change and grow, each school district will continue to monitor the local emergency situation and make school closure decisions on a day-by-day basis.  

Below is a list of schools that will be closed Friday, schools that will be open, and others that will announce their decision Friday morning.

ADDITIONAL AIR POWER DISPATCHED TO REGION AS FIRES BURN THROUGH NIGHT

 

Photo courtesy ECM news partner 10 news

By Miriam Raftery

May 15, 2014 (San Diego)--Fires have scorched over 9,200 acres since yesterday, with several still burning.  A large DC-10 air tanker, 17 helicopters and military aircraft are en route to our region, where hot, dry temperatures and Santa Ana winds have prompted extension of the red flag alert for high fire danger to be extended through tonight. 

Nearly 600 people stayed in evacuation centers overnight from the San Marcos and  Carlsbad fires.  More than 125,000 residences countywide received evacuation calls through the County’s Alert San Diego system. The County Emergency website has received over 1 million visits in the past three days.  Most area schools are closed today countywide due to the wildfires.

In North County, three major facilities are impacted.  Kaiser Permanente medical offices on Craven Road in San Marcos are closed;  Palomar Medical Center and Palomar Health Downtown campus on Valley Parkway have announced cancellation of elected surgeries, 10 News reports.

Below are updates on each major fire:

FIRES CAUSE MAJOR DAMAGES ACROSS NORTH COUNTY

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Facebook/Camp Pendleton Scout

May 15, 2014 (San Diego) 1 a.m. – Wildfires have scorched 9,196 acres, the County Emergency Services Department has announced. Alert San Diego has sent 121,878  notices to residents to evacuate or prepare to evacuate.

Several major fires continue to burn in north San Diego County tonight and several structures have been lost.  Below are updates on each of these incidents.

FIRE IN LAKESIDE STOPPED AT 17 ACRES, EVACUATIONS LIFTED

 

 

By Nadin Abbott

May 14, 2014 (Lakeside)--A brush fire Lakeside along I-8 business route and Aurora Drive sent up billows of dark smoke visible across much of East County late today.  The blaze, which started atop a small hill, charred 17 acres, according to Chief Andy Parr Of Lakeside Fire. Evacuation notices sent to 1,300 residences have now been lifted.

A road closure on Aurora Drive will remain in effect overnight.

GOVERNOR DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY FOR SAN DIEGO COUNTY

 

Source: San Diego County News Service

May 14, 2014 (San Diego)-- Governor Jerry Brown has proclaimed a State of Emergency this evening after the County of San Diego proclaimed a local emergency earlier in the day and requested the state declaration. The local and state proclamations mean the County can more easily access state and federal resources as needed to help in fighting the fires.

The state proclamation notes that a Federal Management Assistance Grant has been requested and approved by FEMA for the Poinsettia Fire in Carlsbad. Under the federal Fire Management Assistance Grant Program, the federal government shares the costs of local fires.

Full text of the Governor’s press release and proclamation are below.

CIF ATHLETIC COMPETITIONS CANCELLED COUNTYWIDE FOR THURSDAY

East County News Service

May 14, 2014 (San Diego)--All California Interscholastic Scholarship Federation (CIF) athletic competitions scheduled for Thursday, May 15 are cancelled in San Diego County.  No contests are to be played in any sport.  

“The fires themselves, the fluidity of circumstances, air quality, traffic/travel, school closures and school access are all issues that have prompted this cancellation,” said Jerry Schniepp, commissioner, CIF San Diego section.  

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