border fire

BRUSH FIRE NEAR BORDER IN TECATE

 

By Miriam Raftery, East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts Service

Photo: Skott Dehla Crozz on Brush Fire Partyline's Facebook Page

October 9, 2017 (Tecate) – A brush fire is burning just south of the border in Tecate, Cal Fire Captain Isaac Sanchez advised in a phone interview with East County Magazine.  Cal Fire has positioned resources on the U.S. side of the border to prepare in case the blaze crosses over.

“I've seen 4 fire trucks heading out the 94,” Candie Wemple said in an email to East County Magazine. Posts on social media indicate black smoke is visible from Campo, Potrero and Barrett Junction.

BORDER FIRE NEAR DULZURA IS 75% CONTAINED

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left:  Cal Fire, 9/2/2017

Photo, below right: Paula Maness, 9/1/2017

September 2, 2017 (Dulzura) – The Border Fire south of Dulzura is now 75 percent contained and has charred an estimated 130 acres, according to Cal Fire.

The brush fire began yesterday along Highway 94 near Marron Valley Road.It is currently spreading to the northeast and is not expected to impact populations. Firefighters will remain on scene constructing containment lines and  mopping up hot spots.

CAL FIRE HELICOPTER ASSIGNED TO “BORDER” FIRE MAKES HARD LANDING

 

East County News Service

September 1, 2017 (Dulzura) – A Cal Fire helicopter assigned to firefighting on the Border Fire south of Dulzura today made a hard landing in a field adjacent to the brush fire.

The pilot was the sole occupant on board and did not suffer any injuries, Cal Fire reports.

EAST COUNTY MAGAZINE WINS AWARDS FOR COVERAGE OF BORDER FIRE, COVERT CANYON AND IRAQI IMMIGRANT ISSUES

 

East County News Service

October 27, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) -- East County Magazine editor Miriam Raftery picked up three awards in San Diego Press Club’s 2016 Excellence in Journalism Awards competition.

Our entry titled “Border Fire Leaves Residents Burned Over Bureaucratic Bungling” won the Wildcard category; this year the wildcard topic was “life on the border.”  Our media outlet beat out media in all categories for this prestigious award including TV, radio, newspapers and magazines countywide.

OFFICIALS MEET WITH POTRERO RESIDENTS ON BORDER FIRE CONCERNS

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 6, 2016 (Potrero)—Supervisor Dianne Jacob convened a meeting at the Potrero Library on September 27th ,  where officials from Cal Fire, the Sheriff’s department,County Animal Services and the Office of Emergency Services responded to concerns raised by residents during the Border Fire.

Verizon, AT&T and SDG&E were also on hand with information on communications issues and power outages.

LAST DOG BELONGING TO BORDER FIRE VICTIMS FINDS ADOPTIVE HOME

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 4, 2016 (Potrero) – “Finally! Kendrick was the last of the dogs at our shelter in Bonita which were rescued from the Border Fire in Potrero in June, “San Diego Animal Services posted on Facebook yesterday.

According to Animal Services, “The young man in the photo met Kendrick a few weeks ago and couldn't get him off his mind. His mom said if they came back on Saturday (October 1st) and Kendrick was still here, he could have him for his birthday which is this week. Kendrick hit it off with this family right away and was happy to leave with them today! His new family is going to take him on lots of hikes on the trail near their home!”

INTERNAL INVESTIGATION INTO DEPUTIES' ACTIONS AFTER BORDER FIRE FIND “NO VIOLATIONS”; CITIZENS VOICE ANGER

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Nadin Abbott, Reporting San Diego;Volunteer searchers combed burned property where two bodies were located after Sheriff's declined to search hills behind couple's home

September 18, 2016  (San Diego’s East County)—Campo resident Claudia Millerbragg  asked the Sheriff’s Department on July 2nd  to launch an internal investigation into what she and other residents described as  rude unprofessional treatment by Sheriff’s officials.  She says three other residents also spoke with the internal affairs

Frustrating by deputies’ lack of response to citizens’ concerns about two missing people after the Border Fire, Millerbragg was present with other local women who launched their own search and within 10 minutes,  found bodies of the missing couple huddled between boulders behind their home.

Now a  Sheriff’s internal investigation  into the matter has closed, with a disposition of “unfounded” in part and “exonerated” in part. The finding has left residents frustrated over the apparent lack of resolution of their concerns.

READER’S EDITORIAL: WHY DID THE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT REPORT MEETINGS WITH RESIDENTS WHEN NONE HAVE OCCURRED?

 

By Jan Hedlun, Potrero resident

Note:  Hedlun sent this on Sept. 14 to San Diego Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Boudreau, with copies to Supervisor Dianne Jacob and ECM.  She’s granted permission to run this as an open letter/reader’s editorial.

Re:  Regional Fire Safe Council Meeting/Potrero

September 16, 2016 (Potrero) -- My name is Jan Hedlun and I am a Potrero resident and an elected member of the Potrero Community Planning Group. I was speaking to Bob Buerer who attended the recent Regional Fire Safe Council meeting on Thursday, September 8th who told me something deeply disturbing.

WHITEWASH? COUNTY’S BORDER FIRE REPORT IGNORES SERIOUS CONCERNS RAISED BY RESIDENTS

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Richard Edwords: Harrowing ride along State Route 94 during Border Fire

 

September 15, 2016  (San Diego’s East County) – The County’s Border Fire 2016 After Action Report  presents a review on the regional response to the Border Fire that ignores many serious complaints lodged by rural residents in the fire. The report was written entirely by official agencies and  does not include concerns raised by the public, leading rural planning officials,  residents and a community news editor to contend the county whitewashed their concerns.

 The blaze killed two people , destroyed five homes and left countless animals without care in triple-digit heat while residents were refused access  for days after the fire. While residents praise efforts of firefighters who worked valiantly to prevent worse losses, many feel betrayed by officials in the wake of the Border Fire report and other complaints that residents say have yielded little or no meaningful changes.

The report omits entirely any mention of controversies over the deaths of Potrero residents Jim and Kyrie Keefe,  whose bodies were found by community volunteers.  Agencies praised themselves in the report, while omitting criticisms on issues such as lack of  adequate care for animals stranded in triple-digit heat and inadequate evacuation notifications -- in some cases, just yellow caution tape stuck on mailboxes, with no explanation or direct contact with residents in danger after their phone lines, cell towers and Internet service all  went down in communities such as Potrero and Lake Morena.

COUNTY RELEASES REPORT ON BORDER FIRE, SETS MEETING IN POTRERO ON SEPT. 27

 

By Miriam Raftery

August 19, 2016 (Potrero) – San Diego County staff has completed its after-action report on the Border Fire.  The report is available at http://www.readysandiego.org/aar/Border-Fire-June-2016-AAR.pdf.  View reports on prior fires at http://www.readysandiego.org/aar/.

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.

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.

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.

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."

BORDER FIRE CLAIMS HOME OF SOLDIER KILLED IN IRAQ WAR

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 29, 2016 (Potrero) -- The  Border Fire destroyed five homes, ravaging lives and memories.  In Potrero, one of the families whose home burned had already suffered a devastating loss. 

Their son, Army Sgt. Brud Cronkrite,  was killed in Karbala, Iraq, when a rocket-propelled grenade was fired into a nearby building while he was on a security patrol during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004. He was born and raised in Potrero, before joining the Army and deploying first to Kuwait, then Iraq. He was 22 years old when he lost his life in service to his country.

TWO BODIES FOUND IN POTRERO ON PROPERTY BURNED BY BORDER FIRE WHERE INJURED DOG WAS FOUND

 

Update:  The Medical Examiner's office has identified the bodies found as Jim and Kyrie Keefe, who died of heat-related injuries.

By Miriam Raftery

June 29, 2016 (Potrero) – Two bodies have been found in a rocky crevasse in Potrero by volunteer community members who organized a search this morning, multiple sources have informed East County Magazine. 

The bodies were found at a site burned by the Border Fire, 10 days after the blaze began, Reporting San Diego’s Nadin Abbott, first media at the scene, and Deerhorn Valley Antler Editor Kim Hamilton both confirmed.

The bodies have not yet been identified,  but were found during a search for Jim Keefe, known as “Barefoot Jim” and  his wife or girlfriend who neighbors knew as “Kyrie.”   As ECM reported last night, neighbors launched the search themselves, voicing frustration that their repeated efforts to get help from a Sheriff’s official for days failed to lead to a serious search of the property and vicinity.

“Spent 15 minutes and picked up smell,” Hamilton told ECM in an e-mail. “Located bodies on hillside tucked into a pocket in the boulders. Exactly what has ben communicated to sheriffs from the beginning.”

COUNTY TAKES ACTION TO WAIVE FEES FOR BORDER FIRE SURVIVIORS TO REBUILD, ALSO PROVIDE BINS FOR DEBRIS

 

East County News Service

Photo: Day 2 of the Border Fire, Cal-Fire

June 28,2016 (San Diego) -- The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to help those who lost homes or buildings in the Border Fire. The County will waive fees for building permits and plan-check reviews. 

Fees will only be waived for structures that were legally permitted originally, prior to the fire. The Board’s Tuesday action would also distribute trash bins to people in the fire areas to help them clear debris.

The Border Fire started June 19th and over the past 10 days has charred over 7,600 acres, destroyed five homes and 11 outbuildings. CAL FIRE reported Tuesday that the Border fire, which grew to 7,609 acres, was 92 percent contained.

“It’s an absolute tragedy for anyone who has lost everything,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob, whose district includes the Potrero, Campo and Lake Morena communities ravaged by the Border Fire.

READER’S EDITORIAL: BORDER FIRE SURVIVOR ASKS SUPERVISOR JACOB AND AGENCIES TO HOLD TOWN HALL MEETING ON FIRE ISSUES IN THE AREAS THAT BURNED

 

By Jan Hedlun

Potrero Resident and Wildfire Survivor

June 28, 2016 (Potrero) --I have heard that local and government agencies involved in the Border Fire are already patting themselves on the back, saying they handled everything perfectly without having sat down with community members for input.  I notice they are holding meetings to tell each other what a good job they’ve done; meetings that most of us recovering from the wildfire did not hear about and could not get to.

I just saw on a Facebook post that today the San Diego County Board of Supervisors are going to “chat about how to provide assistance to victims of the fire at their meeting today." * Chat? Didn’t they have a multitude of meetings after the Cedar (2003), Harris and Witch Fires (2007) that dealt will these topics?  Didn’t they come out with resolutions back then?

I’ve not heard from anyone that Supervisor Jacobs or other authorities have been out here to ask people face-to-face what happened and what could be improved upon. Don’t you think they would want to know all the facts from the people that were involved before holding all these self-congratulatory meetings?

HELP NEEDED FOR RESIDENTS AND ANIMALS IN CAMPO, LAKE MORENA

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  Rapture's Horse Rescue joined efforts led by Deerhorn Valley Antler editor Kim Hamilton with help from local community members and businesses to bring supplies to Potrero

June 25, 2016 (Campo/LakeMorena) – With the Border Fire now 70% contained, relief efforts continue.  Shontel Grivno at Rapture’s Horse Rescue Foundation sent us the following e-mail this morning asking for supplies of non-perishable foods, water  propane and animal feed for fire survivors, livestock and pets in the Campo/Lake Morena communities:

BORDER FIRE 45% CONTAINED; EVACUATION SHELTER CLOSES FRIDAY

By Miriam Raftery

June 24, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – This morning Cal-Fire reports that the Border Fire is 45% contained after scorching 7,483 acres.  Five homes and 11 outbuildings were destroyed. 

The evacuation shelter at Los Coches Creek Middle School in El Cajon is closing today. All evacuated areas are now reopened, however some road closures remain in effect.  View full details from Cal Fire at: https://twitter.com/CALFIRESANDIEGO/status/746347587112828928

Appreciate our alerts?  Please donate to help us continue keeping you safe and informed during emergencies!  Click here to make a donation or a monthly pledge to help sustain our East County Alerts and wildfire  news reporting: http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/donate

RESIDENTS HEAR UPDATES ON BORDER FIRE, THANK FIREFIGHTERS AND VOICE SOME CONCERNS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: County Fire Chief Gary Croucher

June 23, 2016 (El Cajon) --At a community meeting Thursday night at the Los Coches Creek Elementary School in El Cajon, fire officials gave a briefing on steps they took to battle the Border Fire, which since Sunday has burned close to 7,400 acres, destroying 5 homes and 11 outbuildings.  

Residents voiced gratitude toward firefighters for  valiant efforts to save homes and lives, also acknowledging much that has improved since the 2003 and 2007 firestorms thanks to better investments in firefighting equipment and technology.

But some voiced concerns over areas they hope to see improved-- notably helping children and young teens forced to evacuate when parents were away at work, slow communications early on about the fire’s progress, animals lacking food and water in the evacuation zone, and inadequate water at Lake Morena for firefighting aircraft due to the city of San Diego draining the reservoir too low.

TACTICAL FIRING NEAR POTRERO

Source: Cal Fire

June 23, 2016 (Potrero) Tactical firing Operations are being conducted above the north east corner of the Border 3 Fire., Cal Fire advises.

These firing operations are one of the many tools used to stop and or slow down the spread of large fires. The firing operation, along with direct perimeter control efforts, will continue throughout the day and night until the objective has been met.

UPDATED ROAD CLOSURES IN BORDER FIRE

 

 

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

June 23, 2016 (San Diego's East County) -- Cal Fire and the County Office of Emergency Services have released the following updates on new and contining road closures due to the Border Fire.  Also, a large plume of smoke visible this afternoon is due largely to a backfire lit to protect communities.

Below is the latest info on road closures:

LAKE MORENA, CAMPO STILL THREATENED; COMMUNITY MEETING TONIGHT ON BORDER FIRE ISSUES

5 homes lost

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Facebook post by Kerra Elizabeth McAhren

June 23, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – This morning, the Border Fire is now 20% contained and has scorched 6,8450 acres as over 1,900 firefighters battle the blaze.  Five homes (of which 3 were secondary homes on the same property) and eleven outbuildings were destroyed, while one other home was damaged, Cal Fire confirms. Residents on the Campo-Lake Morena Neighborhood Watch page on Facebook have been posting eyewitness accounts, photos and videos as well as thank you messages for firefighters at https://www.facebook.com/groups/345408365593244/.

There will be a community meeting at the Los Coches Creek Middle School located at 9669 Dunbar Ln., El Cajon, CA at 7:00 pm today hosted by the Cal Fire IncidentManagement Team with an update on the Border Fire.  Representatives from agencies managing and supporting the incident as well as local dignitaries will provide a briefing and answer questions.  Public inquiries regarding the Community Meeting or Fire Information, please call 2-1-1.

“The fire still remains a threat to the communities of Lake Morena Village, Campo as well as the outlying recreational assets as the fire continues to move north and northeast. This is still a dynamic and active fire, residents in the surrounding area of the fire should continue to be prepared to evacuate if need be,” Cal Fire’s latest update reads.

FIVE HOMES LOST IN BORDER FIRE; BLAZE 20% CONTAINED

East County News Service

 

June 22, 2016, 8 p.m. (San Diego's East County ) -- Cal Fire reports that the Border Fire is 6,723 acres and 20 percent contained. Five homes total were destroyed; two of the homes were primary dwelling units and three homes were second dwelling units/guest houses. No information is avalable yet on the locations of homes that burned.

1900 firefighters are assigned to battle the blaze, including crews from Lakeside Fire (photo, left) who worked to cut a firebreak today.

The Potrero Branch Library will re-open on Thursday, June 23, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. as a Cool Zone. No data or WiFi service will be available at the library. Cool Zones can help you beat the heat. A complete list can be found here.

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