Wildfire News

BRUSH FIRE IN MEXICO REACHES CAMPO

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo credit: Audrua  A. Lou’Lou, taken at Campo Hills, below cut photo:  Bob Scheid

Update August 14, 2016 2 p.m. -  Fire is now 120 acres, all currently south of the Border,per Cal Fire, which has three engines monitoring the blaze.

Update 7 p.m.:  Cal Fire Captain Isaac Sanchez says the fire is now 60 acres. According to Capt. Sanchez it is entirely in Mexico, though several eyewitnesses have told  ECM it did cross the border earlier in at least one spot near Campo. Cal Fire describes the fire as south of Bell Valley near Potrero,burning southeast along the Mexican side of the border fence."

  Firefighters will remain at scene throughout the evening in order to ensure that it does not spread to the north.  Currently, CAL FIRE and San Diego County Fire have 12 engines, 4 water tenders and 4 hand crews (approximately 100 personnel) at scene. 

 

August 13, 2016 (Campo) – A fast-burning brush fire that started in Mexico has now crossed into the U.S. in Campo, multiple residents confirm.  The fire crossed the border fence about two miles west of the Campo store. 

“It is on both sides of the fence and they are pulling water from private ponds not Lake Morena,” says Karen Noblitt-McIntyre. Lake Morena has been drained to below 3% capacity by the City of San Diego.

Long-time residents of the area advise that the brush there has not burned in many years. Some are voluntarily evacuating near the border.

CAL FIRE INVESTIGATION LEADS TO CONVICTION OF ARSONIST WHO SET FIRES IN LAKESIDE AND OTHER AREAS

 

By Miriam Raftery

August 12, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – On Friday, Poway resident Jonathan Benjamin Cohen, 45, was found guilty of five counts of arson.  “Cohen faces up to 30 years when sentenced in September,” says Cal Fire Captain Isaac Sanchez in El Cajon, speaking on behalf of County Fire Chief Tony Mecham.

SDG&E’S SKYCRANE RETURNS TO SUPPORT REGIONAL FIRE-FIGHTING NEEDS





Company adds new wildfire risk reduction model, more weather stations

Source: SDG&E


Photo: Cal Fire

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZ-IBIVYhdo&feature=youtu.be

Aug. 8, 2016 (San Diego) -  San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) today unveiled the latest additions to its fire-preparedness toolkit for this year, which includes the return of the Erickson Skycrane “Sun Bird” for the seventh straight year. The helitanker, which holds a maximum of 2,650 gallons of water or fire suppressant and can get airborne in just 15 minutes, already helped knock down two fast-moving brushfires just days after its arrival in San Diego on July 1.

SWAT STANDOFF IN SANTEE

 

August 5, 2016 (Santee) -- San Diego Sheriff is advising residents who live near the 9900 block of Woodglen Vista Drive in Santee to stay indoors due to a SWAT stand-off.

The incident began after deptuies were called to a residence for a domestic dispute mid-afternoon.  A suspect believed to be armed refused to come out and a stand-off has occurred.  Scanner traffic indicates the suspect reportedly shot arrows at officers, according to posts at Brush Party Fireline on Facebook.

FIREFIGHTER INJURED, HOMES DAMAGED BY RECYCLING CENTER FIRE

 

East County News Service

Photo: Screenshot, ECM news partner 10 News

August 3, 2016 (Spring Valley) — A firefighter was injured by a falling stack of cardboard while battling a blaze at a recycling center Tuesday morning in the 3800 block of Bancroft Drive in Spring Valley.

LEARN FIRE SAFETY AT COUNTY PARKS

 

Fire safety events are coming to San Diego County parks, with CAL FIRE, U.S. Forest Service and park ranger experts sure to kindle your interest in fire science, preparedness and nature in an outdoor classroom.

PETITION LAUNCHED TO SAVE EAST COUNTY LAKES--AND PROTECT LIVES DURING WILDFIRES

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 26, 2016 (Lake Morena) – An online petition has been launched asking the City of San Diego to stop draining Lake Morena and Barrett Lake. Rural residents seek help from San Diego residents and all who are concerned about wildlife or the prospect of a devastating firestorm to sign the petition.

The petition, posted by Campo resident Karen Noblitt-McIntyre, accuses San Diego officials of ignoring public safety, noting that two residents died during the recent Border Fire. Firefighting aircraft were diverted to water sources farther away due to lack of water in these lakes, witnesses stated in recent public meetings.

The petition states that the city has put wildlife and rural communities at risk, also failing to live up to its promise to repair the dam at Lake Morena. The city drained Lake Morena to less than 3% of capacity and Barrett Lake to below 6% of capacity, public records indicate.  Although San Diego claimed it needed drinking water during the drought, the city did not ask its residents to conserve water before draining East County’s lakes.  The water was pumped to Otay reservoir, which overfilled when rain fell, so the city dumped the precious water supply into the ocean.

SAN MIGUEL FIRE BOARD TO CONSIDER CANCELLING PEPPER DRIVE FIRE STATION, PURSUING ANNEXATION OF CSA 115 BY LAKESIDE FIRE

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 25, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – The San Miguel Fire Protection District board meets Wednesday, July 27th at the district board room at 2850 Via Orange Way, Spring Valley.  The board will discuss possible action to reestablish discussions with Lakeside Fire District over a possible joint annexation of County Service Area (CSA) 115, a 441-acre parcel that includes the planned Pepper Drive fire station.  The board will also consider halting development of Station 19 at Pepper Drive pending results of discussions with Lakeside Fire District over annexation.

In addition, board members will discuss and may take action to approve recommendations from the Transitional Ad Hoc Committee regarding a contract for a Transitional Consultant and may approve appointment of a Transitional Consultant.  Purchase of a fire prevention vehicle will also be considered.

SHOOTING ON BLM LANDS BANNED FOR FIRE SEASON—BUT SOME RESIDENTS SAY MORE ENFORCEMENT IS NEEDED TO PREVENT FIRES IN BACKCOUNTRY

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 25, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – Effective July 1st, the Bureau of Land Management has banned all recreational shooting on its federal lands in San Diego County due to high fire hazard declared by the California Department of Forestry.

LIONS, TIGERS & BEARS ASSISTS IN RESCUE AT WILDLIFE FACILITY THREATENED BY FIRE IN LOS ANGELES

 

East County News Service

July 24, 2016 (Los Angeles) - Lions Tigers & Bears, an Alpine-based nonprofit rescue organization, is helping with fire evacuation efforts at Wildlife Waystation, a non-profit animal sanctuary located in East Los Angeles County,  The Wildlife Waystation is home to over 400 animals of varying  species—from exotic birds and monkeys to lions, tigers, bears and over 40 chimpanzees.

Emergency evacuation efforts at Wildlife Waystation started yesterday as the Santa Clarita fire AKA the Sand Fire whipped through the area at an alarming rate.  The fire has now charred over 3,000 acres.

DOGS WHO LOST OWNERS IN BORDER FIRE NOW AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION

 

East County News Service

July 24, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – The County’s animal shelter in Bonita is still seeking good homes for five of the dogs owned by Jim and Kyrie Keefe, the Potrero couple who perished in the Border Fire.  You can view the dogs in this video. Ideally, Animal Control hopes the dogs can be adopted by someone with a large yard and other dogs.

FIRE IN RAMONA

UPDATE AS OF 8:26 P.M.:  Fire holding at 28 acres, 75% contained.

UPDATE AS OF 9:49 A.M.:  fire is 28 acres and 50%  contained

UPDDATE AS OF 6:20 P.M.:  Fire at 20 acres, 5% contained.  All evacuation orders lifted.  UPDATE AS OF 6:05 P.M.:  Fire holding at 30 acres.  Forward spread has been stopped.

UPDATE AS OF 5:49 PM:  SIGALERT, NB and SB SR-67 BETWEEN ARCHIE MOORE AND POWAY ROAD, ALL LANES CLOSED, UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

UPDATE AS OF 4:47 P.M.: Air attack notes "I've got mud all around it, now just working way back in"

"Currently: 30 acres

Light threat to structures

Potential: 250+ acres"

Road closures will be posted for I-15 and I-8, may impact commute traffic

East County Alerts

Photo:  Mt. Woodson looking east, credit to Dennis on the Brush Fire Partyline on Facebook

July 22, 2016 (Ramona)--A 12-acre fire that started from a car fire is burning now in Ramona at Highway 67 and Rockhouse Road.



Highway 67 is backed up bumper to bumper.  AVOID THIS AREA. 



A 5th air tanker has been ordered from Hemet and incoming crews are coming to Rockhouse Rd. for immediate structure threat.  No mandatory evacuations have been issued, but possible evacuations are:  Rockhouse Rd., Jackie St., Tommie Ln., and Hedy Dr.

133 ACRE BRUSH FIRE EAST OF BARONA

UPDATE AS OF JULY 20, 1:08 PM:  FEATHER FIRE 100% CONTAINED AT 100 ACRES/

UPDATE AS OF 2:24 PM:  Fire 90% contained, lawn mower believed to be cause of blaze.

UPDATE AS OF 9:47 AM July 19:  Fire 65% contained, still at 133 acres.

UPDATE AS OF 8:48 P.M.:  Fire 50% contained, still at 133 acres.

East County Alerts

Photo courtesy Geof Applegate

July 18, 2016 (Barona) - A fast moving brush fire east of the Barona Reservation started at around 14:00 hours, and has a rapid rate of spread. Residents on or around Feather Canyon Road are under evacuation orders, with Sheriff's officers carrying out those contacts.

As of 17:00 hours, the evacuation order has been lifted and the acreage has been updated to 133 after more thorough mapping.  The fire is still holding.  Crews are on scene.

Large animals can be taken to Equestrian Center at 16911 Gunn Stage Road in Ramona.

INSURANCE RATES IN SAN MIGUEL FIRE SHOULD NOT BE IMPACTED BY SHIFT TO STAND-ALONE DISTRICT, DIRECTOR SAYS

By Miriam Raftery

July 13,2016 (Spring Valley) – A reader of ours posed two questions regarding the San Miguel Consolidated Fire Protection District board’s decision to drop its contract with Cal Fire and begin the process of returning to being a stand-alone district.

Our reader asked whether the change would affect ISO ratings, which determine property owners’ insurance rates. He also inquired whether the district had considered a partnership with Heartland Fire, as the cities of La Mesa, El Cajon and Lemon Grove have done.

RURAL SHERIFF’S OFFICE RESPONDS TO BORDER FIRE CONCERNS

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 13, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – Captain Hank Turner from the Sheriff’s Rural Substation in Campo has reached out to address concerns raised by residents at recent public meetings regarding issues that arose during the Border Fire.

Those concerns have prompted two avenues for potential  reforms:  an internal investigation regarding a search for two missing people found dead 10 days after the fire, and an action report  on a broader set of issues, along with recommendations forchanges for the future.

“I’ve lived in East County most of my life. I’m glad to be working out here; my kids go to school with the people out here, and if a fire hits, I’m not living in La Jolla,” Captain Turner told East County Magazine. “I’m living out here and I’m going to be working out here during the fires.”

IN CAMPO, RESIDENTS AIR COMPLAINTS OVER BORDER FIRE ISSUES

 

Update: The Sheriff's office has responded to concerns raised at the Campo-Lake Morena meeting. View the response from Captain Hank Turner here:  http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/rural-fire-sheriff%E2%80%99s-office-re...

By Miriam Raftery

July 10,2016 (Campo) –At a packed meeting of the Campo-Lake Morena Community Planning Group this week, attendees spoke out to voice anger over officials’ treatment of residents during the  Border Fire, particularly issues involving law enforcement officers and County Animal Control. Chair Billie Jo Jannen stated, “We need to channel this outrage”  and circulated a draft letter to be sent to Supervisor Dianne Jacob following any changes after the public’s statements.

The first portion of the meeting focused on issues of not enough water in Lake Morena to fight the fires. (See our article on the Lake Morena issues here.)  The next agenda item focused on other Border Fire issues.

At a table in the back sat several  women who found the bodies of Jim and Kyrie Keefe during a search conducted by volunteers 10 days after the fire at the site where they lived in Dogpatch, just  east of Potrero. They voiced outrage over the fact that despite complaints to officials who did too little, too late, it fell to women volunteers to find the bodies.  The couple died of smoke inhalation in between boulders behind their home, where they apparently tried to take shelter during the wildfire.

SAN MIGUEL FIRE BOARD VOTES TO RETURN TO STAND- ALONE DISTRICT, TERMINATE CONTRACT WITH CAL FIRE

 

By Mike Allen

July 7, 2016 (Spring Valley) -- Some four years after contracting out its fire protection to Cal Fire, the San Miguel Consolidated Fire Protection District’s board voted July 6 to begin the process of terminating that relationship.

MINIATURE DONKEYS SAVED DURING FIRE ARE STRICKEN BY ILLNESS

 

Fundraising site set up to help pay mounting vet bills

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: "Sweet", the youngest foal at Fantasy Donkeys, died of a mysterious ailment shortly after the Border Fire

July 9, 2016 (Campo) – In one of the most dramatic rescues during the Border Fire, the Humane Society helped evacuate 55 miniature donkeys from Fantasy Donkeys’ ranch in Campo to three different temporary shelters.  But after the fire passed and the herd returned home, Nearly two dozen donkeys fell ill and one young foal, Sweet Child of Mine, or “Sweet” for short, died. 

Thus began a desperate effort to save the remaining donkey.  Seven have required round-the-clock care on site and four had to be rushed to the San Luis Rey Equine Hospital in Bonsall, where after intensive treatment for two weeks, they are now recovering. The ordeal has been a drain emotionally and financially, since owner Kim Fuson has had to take time off her job as a nurse to care for the ailing donkeys, while veterinary bills have climbed to nearly $20,000.

U.S. FOREST SERVICE AGREES TO LAND FIREFIGHTING TANKER PLANE AT BROWN FIELD IN OTAY, BUT NOT RAMONA

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 9, 2016 (Otay)—Effective immediately, the U.S. Forest Service has authorized its Next Generation firefighting air tankers to operate at Brown Field in Otay Mesa near the border during times of elevated wildfire risk.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob  called the announcement “a step forward” but added, “They don't go far enough. Ramona Air Attack Base, in the heart of wildfire country, still makes the most sense.”  She noted the high risk of wildfire in Ramona, site of the devastating 2003 Cedar Fire and the2007 firestorms.

BRUSH FIRE IN OTAY

 

East County News Service

Photo by  Denise Meyer

Update 10:45 p.m. - Forward spread is halted and the fire is now in mop-up, per Cal Fire.

July 8, 2016 (Otay) - 9:15 p.m.-- Cal Fire is battling a 10-acre brush fire at State Route 94 in the Otay area. The fire was reported shortly after 8 p.m..

No structures are currently threatened however scanner traffic indicates additional resosurces have been ordered.

NOT ENOUGH WATER IN LAKE MORENA TO FIGHT BORDER FIRE, RESIDENTS SAY

 

“Precious moments were lost and that caused the fire to get out of control…Lives have been lost that may have been saved if they had been able to get water out of Lake Morena and not burned 6,000 acres in less than 12 hours.”—Karen McIntyre, Campo

By Miriam Raftery

Photos: Karen McIntyre displays photos of Lake Morena before and after the City of San Diego drained away over 97% of the water.

July 8, 2016 (Campo)—At a heated meeting of the Campo-Lake Morena Community Planning Group,  residents vented anger over the loss of homes and lives during the Border Fire.  Some fault the City of San Diego for draining Lake Morena, claiming lack of water delayed firefighting aircraft responses.

The residents are demanding changes—and some are talking about legal remedies to take back control of their local water supply.

POTRERO RESIDENTS SEEK HELP TO SHELTER IN PLACE, ORGANIZE TO AID NEIGHBORS IN FUTURE FIRES

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 6, 2016 (Potrero) –“How do we move forward now?”  Robert Buerer(photo,left), leader of the Potrero  Community Emergency Response (CERT) Team asked at  a Potrero Foundation disaster preparedness meeting on Saturday, July 3 in the aftermath of the Border Fire.

He wants to expand a Neighbor to Neighbor program that’s arisen out of Neighborhood Watch.   Each neighborhood would have a team leader and phone tree to spread word about alerts and evacuation notices to  neighbors.  To prevent a recurrence of the tragic loss of a couple trapped during the Border Fire with a broken-down vehicle, the program would enable neighbors to learn if someone needs help to evacuate or find a haven for those who choose to shelter in place.

MEMORIAL PLANNED JULY 10 FOR COUPLE WHO DIED IN BORDER FIRE

 

 

By  Miriam Raftery

Update July 6, 2016:  The Medical Examiner has confirmed the identity of James Peter Keefe,53 and also confirmed that the second body is that of his wife,but has not released her full name pending efforts to locate her relatives in Canada.

Memorial fund established for Jim and Kyrie Keefe

July 3, 2016 (Potrero) –A memorial service is planned for July 10th at 11 a.m. to commemorate Jim Keefe and his wife, Kyrie.  The service will be held at 28020 State Route 94 in Potrero,  the site where the young couple lived.  Bodies believed to be theirs were found by volunteer searchers among boulders 50 to 70 yards behind their home after the Border Fire.

“Let’s get together to honor them, talk to each other about what happened that tragic day, and salute two wonderful people who brightened our lives and made us smile. See their art, tell some stories on the mic, hear some music, walk the property, cry, hug,and laugh,” Claudia Millerbragg posted on the Potrero Town page on Facebook, adding that people should bring chairs.

BRUSH FIRE IN DULZURA SHUTS DOWN HIGHWAY 94

 

East County News Service

July 3, 2016 (Dulzura) -- State Route 94 is shut down in both directions from Barrett Lake in Dulzura to State Route 188 due to a brush fire,according to Cal Trans.  The Barrett Fire is now 10 acres, Cal Fire reports.

The CHP website indicates the fire began when a motorcycle accident ignited dry brush.

READER’S EDITORIAL: “GREAT DEAL OF NOTIFICATION” TO PUBLIC ON SAN MIGUEL FIRE DISTRICT BOARD PLANS TO WEIGH STAND-ALONG CONTRACT FOR FIRE SERVICES

 

Board member responds to Robert Perry's editorial: Discussion and possible vote July 6

Photo: Large crowd at a prior SMF meeting on financial issues prior to the contract with Cal Fire

By Theresa McKenna,  Board Member, San Miguel Fire Protection District

As I relayed in my phone conversation with Mr. Perry recently, I personally believe there has been a great deal of notification to the public on this specific topic.  In fact, significantly more notice has been given to the Community than was ever made by the prior Board that voted to contract out fire suppression services.

READER’S EDITORIAL: SAN MIGUEL FIRE TO VOTE JULY 6 ON SPLITTING WITH CAL FIRE: PUBLIC INPUT NEEDED

 

 

Update:  San Miguel Fire Protection District board member Theresa McKenna has responded to Robert Perry's editorial to detail how much notice and discussion has been held on this issue. Read her remarks here.

By Robert Perry, community resident

Photo:  Protest at station closed due to budget gaps back when San Miguel was a stand-alone station, before contracting with Cal Fire. Opinions ran hot on both sides of the partnership deal at that time.

July 2, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) --With zero public input and zero community discussion (thus far) the San Miguel Fire Protection District has an action item on the agenda for the board meeting of July 6, 2016 to "discuss and may approve returning to a stand alone District".  View agenda.

The district has contracted with CAL FIRE the past four years after facing a structural deficit of their own making.  There is one more year of the contract.

BORDER FIRE SURVIVORS SHARE CONCERNS, OUTRAGE AT MEETING WITH SUPERVISOR JACOB, FIRE AND SHERIFF OFFICIALS

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 30, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – Emotions ran high at a community meeting on Border Fire issues convened by Supervisor Dianne Jacob this morning at the Barrett Junction Café in Dulzura.

 Rural residents praised efforts of firefighters, but voiced frustrations and pointed criticisms over problems that arose including lack of adequate care for animals in the evacuated areas and at shelters. communications failures, and inadequate help to locate a missing couple found dead yesterday by volunteer searchers in Potrero.

Jacob  converted a  previously planned coffee with the community event into a forum for the public to air concerns and for officials to respond.  Representatives from Cal Fire and the Sheriff’s Department turned out, but Animal Services did not.  “Not being here is not a good thing,” Jacob said of Animal Services, adding that she has heard many complaints from rural residents about both Animal Services and the Sheriff’s Department.

EMERGENCY MEETING ALERT: BORDER FIRE SURVIVORS -THURS 8 AM AT BARRETT CAFE

 

June 29, 2016 (Barrett Junction)--Supervisor Dianne Jacob has pulled together an emergency meeting in response to all the concerns raised by Border Fire survivors. The meeting will be held at 8:30 a.m. at the BarrettCafe, 1020 Barrett Lake Road in Dulzura.

A note from her office states: "She will be there with Fire Officials, Sheriff's Department, Office of Emergency Services, Animal Services, BLM, Border Patrol to listen to residents' concerns andanswer questions. This meeting was scheduled already. Sup Jacob has quickly reformed it to include the very people who need to hear from residents there on the ground.  She is well aware of the concerns you've shared with her office."

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