Otay

CRIMINAL ARSON PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GATE FIRE

By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Cynthia Wharton, taken yesterday from Otay Lakes Road just before it was shut down.

May 21, 2017 – A criminal arson investigation has been launched into the cause of the Gate Fire, which has charred 2,056 acres and is now 70% contained.

Captain Isaac Sanchez with Cal Fire told ECM news partner 10 News that a video shot by a target shooter and posted on social media shows a group of people starting the fire. The video may be this one posted by a user named Vandalsworld on Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/p/BUVtlvSBN0r/?hl=en.   The poster claims the people started the fire, but it is unclear whether the fire was started by shooting or some other way. After the fire started, the people could be seen walking away from the scene.

Earlier, some neighbors had blamed the fire on shooters at a target range near where the fire began, in an area where shooting is believed to have started several prior brush fires. But now a shooter may have captured evidence to catch possible arsonists or careless individuals whose actions ignited the Gate Fire.

Firefighters continue to make progress towards full containment, Cal Fire reports.  State Route 94 has been reopened, as well as Otay Lakes Road.  Please drive with caution, however, in this area.

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.

CROSS-BORDER BRIDGE FROM OTAY TO TIJUANA AIRPORT OPENS DEC. 9

 

East County News Service

December 1, 2015 (Otay Mesa) – On December 9th,  a private port of entry called the Cross Border Xpress is set to open in Otay Mesa with a bridge linking the facility to the A.L. Rodriguez International Airport in Tijuana.  The Tijuana airport services 4.5 million passengers each year, 60 percent of whom cross the international border.

The Cross Border Xpress will be available only to ticketed airline passengers and will be the first border crossing in California to charge a toll: $15 for those who pre-pay at the facility’s website, or $18 for those who pay at the gate. Tickets are slated to go on sale this week at www.CrossBorderXpress.com.

GUNSHOT VICTIM'S BODY FOUND EAST OF OTAY

 

East County News Service

August 17, 2015 (Otay) –An agent from the U.S. Border Patrol found the body of a Hispanic man alongside a roadway in unincorporated San Diego County at 6 a.m. on the morning of August 12, 2015. “The man had been shot multiple times in the upper body and died as a result of his injuries,” said Lieutenant John Maryon with the Sheriff’s homicide detail.

ICE ISSUES RESPONSE ON IRAQI DETAINEES AT OTAY: 5 ORDERED DEPORTED, 1 FACES CHARGES OVER FALSE PAPERS, 22 REMAIN BEHIND BARS

 

Congresswoman Davis wants to speak with family members of detained Chaldeans

By Miriam Raftery

August 3, 2015 (Otay) –After our story  yesterday on efforts by local Chaldeans to free more than 20 Iraqi Chaldean Christians detained for months at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)/Homeland Security facility in Otay Mesa, we received a response from Lauren Mack, public affairs officer for ICE in San Diego. 

Mack advised us via e-mail, “There are currently 28 Iraqi nationals in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody at the Otay Detention Facility in San Diego. One of those individuals was criminally charged this week in federal court with providing false information on an immigration application. Five others in the group have now been ordered removed (i.e., deported) by an immigration judge.”

Asked if these six individuals are Chaldean Christians or not, Mack declined to reveal the religion of these detainees. However she did provide a copy of the criminal complaint filed against Reta Morrogi (a.k.a. Zina Hormes Oraha Delli. It states that Morrogo communicated through an interpreter in the Chaldean dialect. She is charged with failing to disclose time spent in Germany on her flight from Iraq to the U.S.

EAST COUNTY CHALDEANS PLEA FOR RELEASE OF CHRISTIANS DETAINED BY HOMELAND SECURITY AT OTAY

 

Detentions shine spotlight on U.S. policies that critics say is harshest system in the world for asylum seekers

By Miriam Raftery

Hear our KNSJ radio coverage of the rally, aired on August 3, 2015:  /sites/eastcountymagazine.org/files/2016/April/OtayIraqis-FinalShow.mp3?641

Hear our August 7, 2015 radio broadcast on KNSJ  with Mark Arabo, a national spokesman for Iraqi-American Chaldeans, and Amir Moshe, a former translator for the U.S. Army in Iraq who has two cousins detained inside the Otay facility.  Listen Now: /sites/eastcountymagazine.org/files/2016/April/8-4-15%20MOSHE%20-%20MARK%20-%20CHALDEAN%20INTERVIEW.mp3?722

 

August 2, 2015 (El Cajon) – Over three dozen Iraqi Chaldean Christians from El Cajon held a prayer vigil and protest outside the prison walls at the Homeland Security detention facility at Otay Mesa on Thursday, calling for the release of their family members and friends who fled ISIS only to be imprisoned when they arrived in America seeking asylum.  Over two dozen have been held in indefinite detention for over four months, some up to seven months, with no hearing date set for release. 

The detainees include a woman who pleaded for release to see her mother, who died Thursday at Sharp Grossmont Hospital.

Father Noel from St. Peter’s Cathedral in El Cajon told East County Magazine that all of the detained Christians have family in El Cajon who vouch for their identities and are willing to take them in. 

The situation is far different than for Iraqi Chaldeans who came here a decade ago seeking asylum.  “Ten years ago, they were held just a couple of days and they were not in a jail,” he told East County Magazine.  “Today, they are fleeing ISIS," escaping genocide in their homeland, only to arrive and be imprisoned in the U.S.

BORDER PATROL AT OTAY CROSSING ARRESTS SUSPECT FROM 2007 DONUT SHOP SLAYING IN KENSINGTON

 

East County News Service

July 30, 2015 (Otay)--U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Otay Mesa port of entry Tuesday caught a man wanted by the San Diego Police Department for a 2007 homicide at Donut’s Plus in San Diego’s Kensington neighborhood.

IRAQI CHRISTIANS WHO FLED ISIS ARE IN DETENTION CENTER AT OTAY: LOCAL LEADERS CALL FOR RELEASE

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

East County News Service

Photos of rally by Peter Mansour

June 24, 2015 (San Diego) – Clergy members and Iraqi community leaders held a prayer vigil on June 18th, calling for release Iraqi Chaldean Christians held in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center.

Since the rise of ISIS, many Iraqi Chaldean Christian have fled to neighboring countries. Some have been fortunate enough to make it across the Mexico-US border. But many of these Christians have now been imprisoned in the detention center for up to four months without any indication of imminent release, despite testimony from Christian family members in San Diego that can vouch for their identity.

FATAL SKYDIVING ACCIDENT IN OTAY AREA

 

Update March 31: The victim has been identified as Jordan Janway, 27.  Janway is the brother-in-law of NASCAR racing champion Jimmie Johnson and sister to Johnson's wife, Chandra.

By Miriam Raftery

March 30, 2014 (Otay Mesa) –A skydiving instructor in his 20s is dead after colliding with another skydiver this afternoon.  He may have been knocked unconscious and his parachute never opened.  

He was reported missing, prompting a search of the Otay area by Sheriff's deputies, Border Patrol agents, Cal-Fire firefighters and approximately 20 skydiving volunteers. The Sheriff's A.S.T.R.E.A. helicopter also responded and located the missing skydiver's body.

Ironically, a device that could have saved his life had reportedly been sent out for maintenance. A master parachutist and rigger with more than 1,000 jumps on record, he usually carried a device to automatically open his parachute in the case of emergency.

COMMUNITY SAYS NO TO $1.6-BILLION PIO PICO POWER PLANT

 

Rally at Environmental Protection Agency hearing shows no need for SDG&E’s dirty power plant

January 8, 2014 (Otay)--On December 17, local community organizations and residents from around the county rallied to ask the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to deny a permit for SDG&E’s proposed fossil fuel power plant, Pio Pico, in San Diego. The hearing ironically falls on the 50th anniversary of the Clean Air Act, a federal law requiring the EPA to develop and enforce regulations that protect citizens from breathing hazardous and harmful air.

WORK BEGINS ON NEW HIGHWAY PROJECT TO CUT BORDER WAIT TIMES, IMPROVE CROSS BORDER COMMERCE

 

December 10, 2013 (Otay) – Elected officials and business leaders from the U.S. and Mexico will hold a groundbreaking ceremony today on a new state highway project aimed at reducing border wait times and improving cross-border commerce.  State Route 11  will be a four-lane highway connecting a planned port of entry, Otay Mesa East, to the state highway system.

The 2.5-mile project will be built in three segments. The $112 million Segment 1, starting construction now, will include connectors to SR 905, plus a stretch of new highway from SR 905 east to Enrico Fermi Drive. Segments planned for the future will extend the highway to the border and create a new border crossing.

FATALITY CRASH RAISES CONCERNS OVER ROADWORK ON HIGHWAY 94

 

October 28, 2013 (Jamul) - Could road paving work have caused last night's  fatality crash on State Route 94 at Otay Lakes Road?

"Without striping on the road, very few delineation markers, and no lights during this resurfacing, it becomes virtually impossible to see where you are going or know where the road is," the Jamul Action Committee wrote in an email after the deadly crash. Moreover, two more motorists have come forward to warn of near-miss crashes including at least three near-head on collisions that they blame on missing or confusing pavement markings from the resurfacing project.

Jamul residents have been warning that the repaving work, being done both day and night with multiple stops and congestion, could endanger motorists, as ECM previously reported: http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/node/14217 . The paving is expected to continue for months.

TRAFFIC ADVISORIES: OTAY AND MOUNT LAGUNA

 

October 27, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – A Sig-Alert has been issued for a head-on crash at Highway 94 and Otay Lakes Road.  Incident Page Network reports a fatality.  CHP’s website indicates the head-on collision involved a white truck and a black sedan, with a third vehicle also involved.

A serious accident is also reported on Sunrise Highway at State Route 79.  According to the CHP website, one vehicle swerved to avoid another and rolled over. The vehicle is on its roof against support lines for a power pole.  At least one serious injury is reported and emergency responders are en route.

HOMECOMING PLANNED THURSDAY FOR EAST LAKE LITTLE LEAGUE STARS

 

By Derek Carlyon

August 28, 2013 (Otay) -- At the start of Little League season, every young player dreams of earning a trip to Williamsport, Pennsylvania to play in the Little League World Series.  For  12 young players from San Diego’s own Eastlake Little League in Otay, that dream became a reality. 

On Thursday at 6 p.m., a big homecoming is planned for the U.S. champion Eastlake All Stars team at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre.

FIRES IN RAMONA AND OTAY

Update: Aircraft have been released from the Ramona fire. Otay Fire has been stopped at 120 acres.

Photo by Paul Kruze

May 3, 2013 (San Diego's East County) -- A 15-20 acre fire named Harvest Fire is burning near Otay Mountain.  It is east of Brown Field and is threatening a salvage yard, Cal Fire reports.  There are no threats to structures currently.

Cal-Fire is at the scene of a small brush fire in Ramona.  The fire is at the Ramona Canyon RV Park, 24340 Highway 78.  An air attack has been ordered.

MOWER SPARKS FIRE AT JAMUL CREEK

April 3, 2013 (Otay) – The Deerhorn Valley Antler reports that a contractor awarded a grant to restore a section of Jamul Creek was mowing vegetation yesterday when the mower hit a rock, sparking a flame that started a brush fire.

“The grass was still green, so it was a bit surprising that it would burn,” Tracie Nelson of California Fish & Game told the Antler. The fire was doused quickly thanks to the swift actions of the worker and responding fire crews, with no damage to property.

PRIVATE PLANE LANDS SAFELY ON STATE ROUTE 125

 

Photo courtesy of ECM news partner 10 News

March 22, 2013 (Otay) -- This morning at 11:05, California Highway Patrol communications began receiving reports that a small private plane had been forced to land on the freeway after experiencing mechanical problems.  CHP officers responded to these reports and located the Cessna 150 on the right shoulder of State Route 125, near the Otay River Bridge. 

CPUC TO DECIDE FEB. 13 ON 3 SAN DIEGO FOSSIL FUEL POWER PLANTS

Update February 13:  The CPUC has postponed its decisions until February 28.  This is the fourth delay on the controversial projects.

 

February 12, 2013 (San Diego)—The California Public Utilities Commission is expected to decide this Wednesday, February 13 on whether or not to approve three gas-powered “peaker” plants in San Diego County, including Quail Brush near Mission Trails, as well as facilities in Otay and Escondido. The meeting will be held in San Francisco at 9 a.m. 

If you wish to send a letter to the CPUC, Save Mission Trails has information posted here.

WILD WEATHER HITS COUNTY: SNOW IN MOUNTAINS, FLOODING AND ROCKSLIDES ACROSS REGION

By Miriam Raftery

December 13, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Following today’s heavy rains, snowfall is forecast to blanket local mountains as low as the 4,000 foot level tonight with several inches of snow at higher elevations. 

Flooding caused several serious accidents, including a semi-truck collision in the Bonita area and a fatal school bus –car collision on I-805.  Normally dry culverts and flood channels in the Mount Helix, Spring Valley and Bonita areas overflowed.

OTAY WATER DISTRICT SEAT 2: MITCH THOMPSON MAKES CASE FOR REELECTION

October 23, 2012 (Otay) -- Three candidates are running for Otay Water District’s seat 2. ECM sent questionnaires to all three candidates. Only the incumbent, Mitch Thompson, responded. Thompson was appointed to fill a vacancy and his answers are below. Other candidates are David Krogh, a business financial analyst, and Tracy Lopez, an immunization program manager. 

DOZENS OF CARS AND HOMES VANDALIZED IN OTAY RANCH; DAMAGE INCLUDES SWASTIKA GRAFFITI

October 14, 2012 (Otay) - Over 25 vehicles and three homes were vandalized last night or this morning in the 1800 block of Magdalena Avenue and on side streets in Otay Ranch.

"The damage consisted mostly of spray paint on cars, garage doors or broken car windows," stated Lt. Eric Thunberg with Chula Vista Police.  "Some of the damage consisted of crudely drawn swastikas or parts of the human body."

FOUR CANDIDATES VIE FOR SEAT 5 IN OTAY WATER DISTRICT

October 13, 2012 (Otay)—Incumbent Otay Water District board member Mark Robak faces three challengers for Seat 5: water manager David Charles, civil engineer Ronald Ripperger, and retired civil engineer Tim Stanton. East County Magazine sent a questionnaire to all of the candidates. Ripperger and Stanton did not respond.  Replies from Charles and Robak are published below.

NEW FIRES & UPDATES ON EARLIER FIRES

Update 5:30 p.m. --There are multiple fires in the Vallecito Lightning Complex, the largest of these fires per Cal Fire are:

 Vallecito Fire: 350 acres 0% contained South East of Julian, cause lightning

Wilson Fire: 600 acres 0% contained near Scissors crossing North East of Julian, cause lightning

Stewart Fire: 50 acres 0% contained near Scissors crossing North East of Julian, cause lightning

 

A reader advises that Pinyon Ridge is on fire between Shelter Valley and Ranchita (photo above, shot from Shelter Valley, shows Sentanec Cienega where Higwhay 78 enters Sentanec Canyon.

August 13, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) –  The Chihuahua Fire is 100% contained, after burning 2,007 acres according to Cal Fire’s final update.

Multiple new brush fires are burning in East County. Largest of these is the Vallecito Lightning Complex  fire, which has charred 220 degrees and remains 0% contained. No structures are threatened.  

OTAY LAKES ROAD CLOSED AFTER VEHICLE PLUNGES INTO LAKE

 

August 5, 2012 (Otay)—A vehicle has plunged into the Otay Lake reservoir, multiple sources confirm. Divers assisted in rescuing people trapped inside, including two juveniles.  The children were in CPR status, IPN reported, but were later taken to a hospital by medical helicopter. Their condition has not been released.

SIX BRUSH FIRES CAUSED BY SHOOTING FIREARMS IN EAST COUNTY; CAL FIRE ASKS BLM TO BAN SHOOTING DURING FIRE SEASON

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 22, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Revelations that six wildfires in the past six weeks have been caused by recreational shooting in East County has caused a firestorm of controversy.  

Cal-Fire, joined by residents of  Dulzura, Potrero and other areas bordering the Otay Wilderness area have asked the federal Bureau of Land Management to ban shooting on its properties within San Diego County for the duration of this year’s expected severe fire season.  

SMALL BRUSH FIRE HALTED IN JAMUL/OTAY AREA

 

July 1, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Cal-Fire has stopped the forward spread of a two-acre brush fire that started in the 14000 block of Otay Lakes Road near the Thousand Trails Campground at Pio Pico.

No structures were threatened by the blaze, which IPN reported at 2:18 p.m.  Cal-Fire halted the forward spread of the slow-burning fire at 2:57 p.m.

 

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