January 27, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)—The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for Saturday due to high winds and warm, dry weather that will create “explosive fire growth potential.”
SDG&E WANTS RATEPAYERS TO PAY FOR ITS WILDFIRE LIABILITY COSTS: FIRE VICTIMS ASK PUBLIC TO URGE CPUC TO HOLD HEARING IN SAN DIEGO
By Miriam Raftery
January 19, 2012 (Ramona) – In hearings last week in San Francisco before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), SDG&E revealed that it wants to charge San Diego County ratepayers nearly half a billion dollars to recoup the utility’s uninsured costs for settling claims involving the 2007 Witch Creek, Guejito and Rice Canyon wildfires. The utility seeks to establish a Wildfire Expense Balancing Account (WEBA)—a plan that has outraged some local fire victims.
Now they're fighting back--and asking the public for help before February 1 to persuade the CPUC to hold a public participation hearing in San Diego.
January 19, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – If you’re seeing smoke over our local mountains, don’t panic. Cal-Fire confirms that it is assisting the Rancho Cuyamaca State Park with a controlled burn today.
IPN indicates the burn is at the Middle Peaks area of the Park.
Amid firefighting cuts, County Fire Chiefs voice concerns
By Megan McGlamery
January 13, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)--On January 5, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center released the United States Seasonal Drought Outlook for January 5- March 31. The forecast map reveals that drought is likely in southern California and the southwest. View map.
Restricted water usage and rate hikes were among the impacts the last drought had on local residents. But in East County, drought also brings heightened risk of wildfire-- a potentially alarming prospect at a time when firefighting resources are spread thin.
January 11, 2012 (Sacramento) – California’s Board of Forestry and Fire Protection voted today to approve a revised fire parcel fee on structures in rural areas under jurisdiction of Cal Fire.
The fee, up to $150 per habitable structure, would raise up to $100 million annually for the state, which recently cut firefighting budgets statewide. About two-thirds of impacted property owners, however, will be eligible for a reduced $115 fee if they are covered by a local fire district.
January 10, 2011 (McCain Valley)-- If you see smoke this week, don't panic. Cal-Fire will be conducting a prescribed burn in the area of McCain Valley in San Diego's East County during daylight hours January 11 and January 12. Approximately 90 acres of brush will be burned over the next few days as part of a vegetation managegement burn plan.
Update 8:35 p.m.: The fire is now knocked down and residents are cleared to return to their residences.
January 7, 2012 (Lakeside)--Firefighters are on the scene of a garage fire at 12097 Gay Rio Drive in Lakeside. "The fire is putting up a lot of smoke and they're getting people out of the houses nearby," ECM photographer Dennis Richardson told ECM.
One person is reportedly suffering smoke inhalation and will be transported to a local hospital.
January 5, 2011 (Julian)--The San Diego County Department of Parks and Recreation will be conducting weekday pile burns in January through May, weather permitting, at Santa Ysabel East Preserve, Volcan Mountain Preserve and William Heise County Park.
The pile burns — in which piles of cleared brush and other cut vegetation are burned — will reduce the fire hazard of excess vegetation fuels.
January 4, 2012 (San Diego County) -- Effective January 1, 2012, California Fire Safe Council (CFSC) will become the state liaison for the Firewise Communities/USA program in California. This new designation is part of an agreement between Firewise USA, CFSC and CAL FIRE that delegates CAL FIRE's authority as State Firewise liaison to the California Fire Safe Council. The agreement is memorialized in a Memorandum of Understanding between CFSC and CAL FIRE.
January 3, 2011 (Pine Valley) – Cal-Fire will be conducting a prescribed burn today through January 7 in the Rancho Corte Madera area southwest of Pine Valley.
Approximately 200 acres of brush will be burned as part of a vegetation management plan aimed at protecting surrounding communities.
January 2, 2012 (Alpine)--The Alpine Fire Protection District has approved pension changes with the Alpine Fire Fighters Association. After months of negotiations, at a Board meeting on December 20, 2011 both sides agreed to a contract extension that makes changes to the pensions of current and future Firefighters employed with the District. All employees of the Alpine Fire District are members of the CalPERS retirement system.
By Betty McMillen
December 19, 2011 (Lakeside) -- Dignitaries and VIPs braved the blustery wind for the grand opening of the new Lakeside Fire District Administration Office and combination Fire Station #2 on December 16. It was branded a "sneak preview" since the station has about two weeks worth of finishing work to be done by the contractors. Firefighters are hoping to be moved into the now empty 24,000 square foot structure by mid-January.
By Miriam Raftery
December 17, 2011 (Sacramento)—The State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection has withdrawn its proposed fire parcel fee for further revisions and will reexamine the fee level in January.
Cal-Fire asks public to be on the lookout for fires and be prepared
December 1, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – A wind warning has been downgraded to a wind advisory, however sustained northeasterly winds of 35 mph with gusts of 50 mph are forecast tonight through Friday afternoon in East County mountains, valleys and desert areas.
By Miriam Raftery
November 12, 2011 (Sacramento)—The California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection has approved a $150 fire parcel fee on rural property owners. Those living in a fire district will receive a $35 discount, dropping the fee to $115. The state estimates that 90 percent of structures will quality for the savings.
That’s significantly more than rates originally approved by the Board in August, though less than the $175 that the Governor originally requested.
RURAL EAST COUNTY RESIDENTS OUTRAGED OVER POWER OUTAGES DURING RED FLAG ALERT WITH WILDFIRE CLOSE BY
“SDG&E exemplifies the hypocritical worst of the One Percent: higher profits, higher rates and disregard for lives.” – Kim Hamilton, Deerhorn Valley Antler editor
By Miriam Raftery
November 3, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Rural East County residents are voicing concerns over a power-shut down yesterday while a 600-acre wildfire in Mexico threatened to jump the border. The night before, some residents received a warning from SDG&E that the utility intended to shut off power due to a red flag alert signaling severe fire danger.
By Miriam Raftery
Update 7:30 p.m. November 2, 2011- Cal-Fire will continue to monitor this fire through the night, says Cal-Fire Captain Mike Mohler. "Cal-Fire has not crossed over the border," he said. The fire is burning northwest and progress is being made toward containment.
He had no updates on size, last estimated at 600 acres, but said he will send an update if the fire should cross over into the U.S.
November 2, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – The National Weather Service has extended today’s red flag alert through this evening as hot, gusty winds continue through much of East County.
A fire burning in Mexico is putting up smoke visible in the southeast portion of the County.
According to Deerhorn Valley Antler editor Kim Hamilton, “A resident in Lyons Valley called to say he received a taped phone message from SDG&E that power may be cut off if the wind conditions are as predicted. If there is any kind of fire event while power is out, we will be in a very dangerous and vulnerable position.”
Sycuan may offer hope for restoring service in Dehesa; Mount Helix could be next to lose fire services
By Miriam Raftery
October 29, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Dehesa residents are losing staffing for their fire engine and being left with only a bare-bones medical crew starting in November. Moreover, a District representative told ECM, Mount Helix could be the next community to lose fire protection if the San Miguel Fire District’s financial situation does not improve.
At a community meeting of concerned Dehesa residents Thursday night, participants put forth a variety of concerns—but also constructive suggestions for pitching in to help the district raise funds.
SCORCHED: SAN MIGUEL FIRE BOARD VOTES TO ELIMINATE FIRE PROTECTION AT DEHESA STATION, IMPOSE STEEP CUTS TO FIREFIGHTERS’ BENEFITS
By Miriam Raftery
“This is a shame and an embarrassment.” – La Mesa Councilman David Allen, former San Miguel Firefighter
“These are wickedly difficult decisions…decisions no fire chief wants to have to make.” – Chief August Ghio
Updated October 28, 2011; originally published October 27, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Over objections of an overflow crowd of more than 100 community members and firefighters, the San Miguel Fire (SMF) District board voted last night to leave only a two-man medical crew at its rural Dehesa station.
Update October 27, 2011 at 12:50 p.m. -- The fire's spread has been stopped at 15 acres or less, Cal-Fire spokesperson Roxanne Provaznik confirms. "The Incident Commander has released one strike team of engines, three water tenders, and all aerial firefighting equipment, except for one helicopter," she said. Firefighters will be committed for several more hours mopping up any remaining hot spots.
October 25, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Due to elevated fire danger with extremely dry conditions, a no-burn proclamation issued by Cal-Fire remains in effect in all state responsibility lands within San Diego and Imperial Counties.
In addition to suspension of open burning, use of campfires are restricted to within established campfire facilities in established campgrounds open to the public.
Labor dispute also heats up; Oct. 26 and 27 meetings set as budget woes deepen
By Miriam Raftery
October 20, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Residents in the Dehesa area of unincorporated El Cajon will be losing a firefighting structure engine and a wildland fire engine due starting November 1.
In addition, a three-man engine will be replaced by a two-man paramedic crew—a situation that the San Miguel Firefighters Association (SMFA) contends on its website is “unsafe” but that the District contends is necessary due to dwindling property tax revenues that fund firefighting services.
October 15, 2011 (San Diego's East County) -- Cal-Fire has cancelled the no-burn proclamation ordered earlier in the week for areas under state fire jurisdiction in San Diego and Imperial Counties. The ban on open burning has been lifted due to improvement in weather conditions including increased humidity and moisture content.
October 13, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – The California Highway Patrol website indicates a brush fire that began at 7:50 a.m. on Old Highway 80 (I-8 business route) at Aurora in Lakeside was arson.A subject is in custody.
A SIG ALERT issued earlier for lane closures has been canceled.
October 12, 2011 (Otay) – A three-acre fire off Highway 94 near the Otay Lakes area Border Patrol checkpoint was caused by target shooting, Cakl Fire reports. The fire was held to three acres, with no injuries or property damage.
October 12, 2011 (San Pasqual) – A fire that began near the San Diego Zoo Safari Park has been doused, Cal-Fire reports. The grass fire charred approximately two to three acres this afternoon off Highway 78 near Clevenger Canyon.
October 12, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal-Fire) has issued a no-burn proclamation due to the extreme risk of fire caused by critical fire weather and acute dryness of vegetation. The order suspends burning permits and other uses of open fire in all state responsibility area lands within San Diego and Imperial Counties.
UPDATE: THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO A LABOR DISPUTE.
San Miguel Fire seeks sponsors and door prize donors for event
October 8, 2011 (Rancho San Diego) – Bring the family for fun and free activities at the 5th annual Fire Expo at the Rancho San Diego Towne Center on Saturday, October 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event features a children’s zone, rescue demonstrations, fire and rescue vehicles, fire safety and health information, law enforcement demonstrations, music, free food and free prize drawings.
October 3, 2011 (Julian) Update 7 p.m.- The Great Fire is 65 percent contained this evening and holding at 2,000 acres, the same size the wildfire has been estimated at since yesterday morning.
Winds are blowing at 10 mph out of the southwest, with gusts of 17 mph, Cal Fire Batallion Chief Nick Schuler reports, adding that there is an increase in cumulous cloud build up and an anticipated increase in wind speeds. Progress is being made in all divisions, he added.
Although more than 1,100 homes in the Julian order were placed on standby for possible evacuation yesterday, no evacuations were ordered, Cal Fire's Roxanne Provaznikconfirmed.