Wildfire News

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.

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.”

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