Wildfire News

FROM THE FIRE CHIEF'S CORNER: WE'VE SEEN FIRE AND WE'VE SEEN RAIN - AND WE'RE GOING TO SEE MORE!

 

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

July 29, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) --We feel the impact every day. Warm temperatures and lack of rain continue to increased drought conditions. With greater evaporation, particularly during the summer and fall, this will and is exacerbating drought conditions resulting in an extremely high increase of wildfires. Fires are spreading at a phenomenal rate of spread. A deadly and disastrous rate that impacts us all!

SCREENPLAY ALLEGES COVERUP OF CEDAR, WITCH CREEK AND PARADISE FIRES

 

East County News Service

July 28, 2015 (San Diego)—Circling the Wagons, a screenplay by Ed Clark, an electrical engineer and insurance investigator, alleges that an electrical design flaw caused the 2003 Cedar Fire as well as the 2007 Witch Creek and Paradise fires.  Moreover, he contends the flaws have not been fixed and public safety remains at risk.  San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) denies those claims.

PREDICTING WILDFIRES' MOVEMENT

 

East County News Service

July 27, 2015 (San Diego)—How can a sandbox filled with powdered walnut shells help firefighters and property owners?  It’s all part of 3-D models created by San Diego State University’s Visualization Center, which is partnering with SimTable to create modeling softare that will predict how wildfires will spread.

HEARTLAND FIRE & RESCUE RESERVE FIREFIGHTER ACADEMY NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS

 

July 26, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)--Heartland Fire & Rescue, serving the Cities of El Cajon, La Mesa and Lemon Grove, is currently accepting applications for the reserve portion of the Heartland Fire Academy through August 7, 2015. Applications will be accepted between 7:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at 100 E. Lexington Avenue in El Cajon.

PROGRESS MADE ON CUTCA FIRE AT PALOMAR

 

Update July 26, 2015, 8 p.m. -- The CutCa fire is now 50% contained, Cleveland National Forest's Inciweb site reports. Crews are spiked out on the line for this evening and will resume work in the morning. Heat remains in the interior of the fire perimeter. Infrared mapping will occur this evening. Crews will continue mop-up operations tomorrow and cooler temps expected will help their efforts. Firefighters will maintain a community presence and provide structure protection if needed.The south/southeast portion of the Cutca fire is an area of concern with several hotspots and potential for ignited fuel rolling across the fireline. Crews are working to suppress this high priority section of fire.

In the fire area there is no previously recorded fire history. Fuels remain critically dry due to drought conditions and can be difficult to suppress, so firefighters are being highly vigilant in mopping up and patrolling for hot spots.

NIGHT CREWS BATTLE FIRE ON PALOMAR MOUNTAIN

 

Update July 25, 2015 8 a.m.:  The CutCa Fire on Palomar Mountain held steady at 200 acres overnight but is still only 2% contained.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Webcam at Palomar Observatory

July 24, 2015 (Palomar) – A fire that started near the Palomar Observatory at High Point Truck Trail is now 200 acres, Cleveland National Forest reports.  The blaze, dubbed CutCa, is not currently threatening structures but is burning in a remote area, making firefighters’ task challenging. The fire is zero percent contained.

Earlier, air tankers made drops on the moderate to rapidly spreading flames.  Golden Eagle, Palomar and Big Bear hot shot crews were been airlifted into the area.  Units from multiple fire agencies including Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service are also battling the CutCa fire. Reporting San Diego reports that a night crew is coming in from Los Angeles and a single night-flying helicopter is making drops on the fire.

BRUSH FIRE AT LAKE MORENA

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Claudia Millerbragg

Update: This fire is contained. Cal-Fire's Kendal Bortisser also confirms that firefighting planes were able to draw water from Lake Morena despite draining of the lake by the City of San Diego to about 3% capacity prior to the recent rains.

July 24, 2015 (Lake Morena) - A 30-acre brush fire is burning near Lake Morena County Park at Lake Morena and Lakeview.  Cal Fire Captain Kendal Bortisser informed ECM at 1:40 p.m. that there are no structure threats but voluntary evacuations are occurring at Lake Morena Village.

The fire is burning in medium to heavy vegetation with a moderate rate of spread.  Brush Fire Partyline on Facebook reports scanner traffic indicates power lines are down.

If you have  photos or eyewitness reports on this fire please send to editor@eastcountymagazine.org

GET OUR FREE WARNINGS OF FIRES, FLOODS & OTHER EMERGENCIES

 

July 22, 2015 (San Diego's East County) -- Stay safe and informed!  East County Magazine's free wildfire and emergency alert service has been busy lately warning people here about flash floods, wildfires, roadway hazards and severe weather.

Our regional emergency alerts come via email, so you can get them even if phone lines burn down. You can also get alerts on your cell phone. Plus you can receive our free weekly newsletter with top news stories in our region.

Sign up today! It's FREE.  Click here.

BILLS WOULD LET FIREFIGHTERS HALT DRONES

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, San Bernardino Fire Dept.: North Fire in its early stage

July 20, 2015 (Sacramento) -- After a series of  serious incidents involving drones interfering with firefighting aircraft,  state legislators have introduced bills that would allow firefighters and rescue personnel to damage or disable drones, also increasing penalties for drone operators who impede firefighting.

The latest and most devastating incident occurred Friday, when five drones forced firefighting planes to delay air drops in order to avoid mid-air collisions. The North Fire quickly spread out of control, crossing Interstate 15 in San Bernadino County and destroyed 20 vehicles on the freeway.  The blaze swelled to thousands of acres, also destroying homes and other property.

COUNTY TO CHALLENGE FOREST SERVICE’S REFUSAL TO LAND NEWEST AIR TANKERS IN RAMONA DURING A WILDFIRE

County News Service

Photo: NIFC.gov

Update July 21: Supervisors voted unanimously to ask the Obama administration to take action and allow USFS air tankers to land in Ramona.

July 20, 2015 (Ramona)—The U.S. Forest Service is refusing to fly its newest air tankers in and out of Ramona Air Attack Base – and the Board of Supervisors may turn to the White House for help.  

On Tuesday, July 21 at 9 a.m. Supervisors will consider a proposal from Chairman Bill Horn and Supervisor Dianne Jacob to appeal the decision to the Obama Administration. With the high-risk fall fire season approaching, they say flying the next-gen tankers in and out of Ramona could help save lives and protect property.

SCRIPPS RANCH GOLF TOURNAMENT OCT. 10 BENEFITS FIRE SAFE COUNCIL

 

East County News Service

July 19, 2015 (Scripps Ranch) – You’re invited to play golf to protect the community.  On Saturday, October 10, the 7th annual charity golf tournament will be held, benefitting the Scripps Ranch Fire Safe Council.  The event will take place at the Vineyard Golf Course in Escondido at 8 a.m. Participants and sponsors are sought.

PROVIDING CRITICAL SUPPORT FOR COMMUNITY FIRE PREPAREDNESS AND PREVENTION PROGRAMS

 

July 18, 2015 (San Diego)  –  San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has awarded $1,000,000 in grants to over 87 regional safety partners as part of SAFE San Diego, a SDG&E philanthropic initiative aimed at supporting non-profit organizations dedicated to disaster preparedness, emergency response training, wildfire education, and defensible space assistance programs.

SCRIPPS RANCH WILDFIRE PREPAREDNESS FORUM SEPT. 26

 

East County News Service

July 19, 2015 (Scripps Ranch)—In 2003, the Cedar Fire destroyed over 200 homes in Scripps Ranch. To make sure residents are better prepared, the Scripps Ranch FireSafe Council will host a Scripps Ranch Wildfire Preparedness Forum on Saturday, September 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Marshall Middle School, 9700 Avenue of Nations in the Scripps Ranch community of San Diego.

ROADWAY HAZARDS REPORTED FROM STORM

Update: 10 News reports cars underwater in Ramona.

Update: Heartland Fire also reports flooding in La Mesa on Avocado between 70th St. and Guava.

The City of La Mesa has cancelled its Sundays at Six concert tonight due to flooding around Harry Griffen Park.

July 19, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – The CHP incidents page reports numerous roadway hazards related to the stormy weather, including some rockin' and rollin' mud, rocks and flooding. Here are the latest details:

  • State Route 79 at Chihuahua Valley: Sig Alert issued, roadway shut down
  • I-8 east, old Sunrise Highway: large rocks down in lanes
  • Highway 79 at Horizon View Drive: Rock slides blocking lanes
  • State Route 78 at Wynola:  Mud and rockslide blocking one side of highway
  • Old Julian Highway just west of Camel Dairy: road blocked both ways by rocks
  • I-15 south connection to Highway 52: rider down in lane
  • Ramona View Dr. in El Cajon: roadway completely washed out

FLASH FLOOD WARNING AND WATCH NOW IN EFFECT

 

 

East County Alert

July 19, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning due to imminent threat of flooding in certain mountain areas, where residents are urged to move to high ground.

There is also a flash flood watch in effect for all San Diego County valleys, deserts and mountain areas, including places where debris flows are possible.  Below are full texts of both alerts:

I-15 REOPENS AFTER BRUSH FIRE BURNS 30 VEHICLES; DRONES BLAMED FOR HALTING FIREFIGHTING PLANES

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Talia Sclafania, via Twitter

July 18,2015 (San Bernadino County) – A fast-moving brush fire roared out of control yesterday in the Cajon Pass in San Bernadino County, trapping vehicles on the I-15 freeway along the main route from San Diego County to Vegas.  The blaze destroyed two semi-trucks and 18 other vehicles, damaging 10 more.  TV footage showed people fleeing along the side of the freeway and some vehicles turning backwards in what some have dubbed "Carmageddon."

At least two people suffered minor burns. A photo Tweeted by soccer player Talia Slafania, forced to abandon her vehicle, captured the terrifying panorama.

NEW RULES FOR REMOVING DEAD TREES IN FOREST AREAS

 

East County News Service

July 9, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Over 87,000 trees in San Diego County forests have died due to drought in the past year, the U.S. Forest Service found in an aerial survey conducted in April. Bark beetles have also decimated many trees locally and in forests statewide.

NEW EL CAJON FIRE HISTORY MUSEUM TO OPEN AT PARKWAY PLAZA JULY 18

 

Photo: City of El Cajon’s first fire truck, 1924

July 8, 2015 (El Cajon)--It’s been years in the planning, but retired El Cajon Fire Chief Ed Jarrell, partnering with Parkway Plaza, is bringing a fire museum to the City of El Cajon!  It’s been a long-time dream for the former Fire Chief to provide the City with a history of firefighting in El Cajon, inspiring youth to pursue a fire career and to provide safety education to those who visit the museum.

SANTEE HIKES FIRE FEES FOR COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL PROPERTY OWNERS

By Miriam Raftery

July 8, 2015 (Santee)—The Santee City Council has voted to raise the Fire Benefit Fee for all commercial and industrial properties to a maximum of $492 per building, per year.  Parcels with multiple buildings will owe the fee for each building. The highest increase faced by any property owner would be $1,800, staff told Council.

“This is really a per building fee,” Councilman Jack Dale observed, “whether you’re 500 square feet or you’re Costco.”

FIREWORKS DAMAGES ASSESSED

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 7, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) - Last week, we reminded you that fireworks are illegal in San Diego County and cautioned you about the dangers.  Today we have some stories that make clear why shooting off your own fireworks is not a good idea. Fireworks caused fires locally and statewide including a major brush fire, as well as some serious injuries.

FROM THE FIRE CHIEF'S CORNER: STOP AND THINK!

 

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

July 6, 2015 (San Diego's East County) - Observing the calls being dispatched this weekend certainly proved a lack of common sense, civility and what a tender box we truly are in as fireworks and careless acts sparked additional wildfires, homes and even commercial business fires this Fourth of July weekend. Most from illegal fireworks. Stop and Think!

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.

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