Photo courtesy San Bernadino County Fire Department
July 10, 2017 (San Diego) – It’s shaping up to be an extreme fire season. Over 6,100 firefighters are battling at least 14 large wildfires burning across California, CAL FIRE public information officer Issac Sanchez reports on behalf of CAL FIRE/San Diego County Fire Chief Tony Mecham. The U.S. Forest Service is also battling numerous fires on federal forest and national park lands, including Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
Photo: A CAL FIRE air tanker drops retardant on a fire in San Diego County. Image credit: Jeff Pack
July 10, 2017 (San Diego's East County) - Hobbyist drones are a growing safety concern among local first responders fighting fires in the air and on the ground.
As we approach peak fire season, San Diego County Fire and CAL FIRE San Diego Unit officials are reminding hobby drone operators to steer clear of wildfires. Drones put first responders’ safety at risk, and they stop or slow firefighting operations.
By Yvette Urrea Moe, County of San Diego Communications Office
Photo: The San Diego region is more prepared for wildfires this year than it has ever been and residents need to do their part to lessen their risk and be ready to evacuate if it is recommended.
May 23, 2017 (San Diego) - This past weekend’s Gate Fire should have ended any lingering thoughts that the year’s ample rains dampened San Diego’s wildfire threat and the need to maintain defensible space around your home.
April 20, 2017 (Descanso) – Do you have a plan for reducing your wildfire risks and protecting your family and pets? The Descanso Emergency Planning/FireSafe Group is holding a workshop on Saturday May 6 from 1-3 p.m. at the Descanso Library (9545 River Drive in Descanso) to help families prepare for wildfires.
Photo: Clayton Fire in Lake County, courtesy of Cal Fire
East County News Service
August 15, 2016 (San Diego) – Cal Fire reports that over 8,800 firefighters are battling eight large wildfires in California. None are in San Diego County, though hot dry conditions pose a significant risk. Below is an update provided by Cal Fire on the fires burning statewide:
June 21, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – Cal Fire has issued an update at 11:32 a.m. advising the Border Fire is holding at 7500 acres, but still only 5% contained. Evacuation orders remain in place for Forest Gate, Star Ranch, Cowboy Ranch, Dog Patch and Canyon City. The Red Cross has an evacuation shelter set up at Los Coches Creek Middle School at 9669 Dunbar Lane in El Cajon.
Photo: Hikers at trailhead to Three Sisters Falls (file photo)
June 20, 2016 (Julian) – Yesterday, a small vegetation fire off Boulder Creek Road a half mile from Three Sisters Falls near Julian was swiftly doused. Palomar Hot Shots, helicopters, U.S. Forest Service and a Cal Fire air tanker attacked the blaze when it had charred only a quarter of an acre at mid-morning yesterday.
June 8, 2016 (San Diego) -- Brush fires chewed through hillsides from San Diego to Ventura Counties and every county in between, challenging firefighters and making hillside homeowners very nervous this past weekend as a very hot and long brush fire season is now underway.
April 14, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) -- If you thought the El Niño rains this season lowered the region’s wildfire risk, you’re going to be disappointed. Unfortunately, they may have done the opposite: increased the fire hazards.
October 4, 2015 (San Diego's East County) - Don’t let recent rains fool you. This year's wildfire season isn't necessarily a new one, but rather a continuation of last year's, thanks to the drought. The National Weather Service is forecasting our first significant Santa Ana wind event of the season this week. Prepare now before conditions get worse!
March 24, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)--Our state’s drought really is a state of emergency, says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. The state is now around 40 million, and growing. What happens when America’s most populous state runs low on its most precious resource for the fourth year in a row?
October 5, 2014 (Alpine)--The Bureau of Indian Affairs (B.I.A) has moved two of its firefighting helicopters from northern California to the Viejas Indian Reservation in San Diego County to position them for quick response as the wildfire threat increases across Southern California.
The continued drought conditions, extreme heat and Santa Ana winds forecast over the weekend have made San Diego County, and Southern California, ripe for wildfires and have prompted multiple agencies to be on high alert.
August 5, 2014 (Washington D.C.)--When it comes to climate change, the facts are in, according to a new video titled "It Only Takes Three Minutes to See Why We Must Act on Climate Change." The release comes as much of the west, including northern California, is once again being ravaged by firestorms.
Watch as President Obama's Science Advisor Dr. John Holdren explains--in less than three minutes--how climate change is making America's wildfires more dangerous and why the President's top science advisor believes we must act now.
May 22, 2014 (San Diego's East County) - Nearly all the animals rescued by the County Department of Animal Services during the recent wildfires are back home with their owners. Animal Services rescued more than 50 animals when fires broke out across our region last week. In all six cats, four goats, 18 dogs, 21 horses, an emu and a bird were taken in to the department’s care. Only three cats remain. Animal Control officers also helped a couple dozen owners evacuate their horses to locations other than the shelters. Officers evacuated between 40 and 50 head of cattle from just one ranch alone.
May 15, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – The East County Chamber of Commerce is warning members to beware of con artists preying on businesses.
“The Chamber is very concerned about the impacts of our recent disaster and we want to remind you that our staff and business community are available to assistance and support your business through hardships like these," said Eric Lund. He also warned business owners about a rash off “mandatory fire inspector con artists” going around to businesses who are not with any fire department.
January 14, 2014 (San Diego's East County)--Are babies and children at risk of suppressed immune systems from wildfire smoke?
A new study at the University of Califiornia, Davis, suggests this could be the case.
The study was conducted by the University and by the California Air Resources Board. It looked at 25 young Rhesus Macaque monkeys born at the university’s Primate Research Center during summer of 2008, when smoke from over 2,000 fires that burned over a million acres drifted into the area. The monkeys born during the wildfires, and who were living outdoors, were found to have suppressed immune systems. Their blood samples were placed in tissue culture dishes, then exposed to disease pathogens—and showed reduced ability to generate immune responses to diseases than blood from 25 other monkeys born a year later.
November 18, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – On September 24, the County Board of Supervisors threw their support behind a Southern California drone testing zone. This rash decision puts San Diego County at risk for $2.7 billion in liability for the property alone if a Drone goes down and starts a fire in the back country. The County Board of Supervisors need to rethink this position quickly, before the FAA opens our skies to drones for testing purposes, and put us all at risk.
June 26, 2013 (San Diego's East County)--Effective June 28, 2013 at 6:00 a.m., fire restrictions on the Cleveland National Forest will be moved to the “Elevated” level. The increase in fire restrictions is due to dryer fuel conditions, higher temperatures, and the likelihood of small fires becoming larger fires.
The purpose of fire restrictions is to reduce the risk of human-caused fires during high fire danger. Fire restrictions impose limitations on forest users and are implemented only as deemed necessary to help prevent wildfires.
Cases have significance for ratepayers if jurors find SDG&E liable for punitive damages
By Nadin Abbott; Miriam Raftery also contributed to this report
June 21, 2013 (San Diego)—Six years after the Witch Creek/Guejito fires, which the California Public Utilities Commission found were caused by SDG&E’s lines, over 2,000 victims have reached settlements with SDG&E. But 16 victims have not settled or received any compensation from the utility for their losses. Now a judge has ruled that some cases may proceed to trial.
At a court hearing on June 19, Judge Richard E. L. Strauss ruled that victims will finally have their day in court—in some cases, with a tort liability, all-issues trial. That could force SDG&E to pay punitive damages if a jury finds the utility was negligent and knew of fire hazards that it failed to correct.
Judge Strauss has set a date for the all-issues trial to finally settle the remaining cases of the Witch Creek/ Rice and Guejito Fires of 2007. These were among the most destructive fires in San Diego history.
Residents Urged to Clear Defensible Space, Plan for Family Readiness
May 22, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – California has already seen 1,569 wildfires this year, about 500 more fires compared to the same period last year and 85 percent more fires than in an average year. With the long, hot and dangerous summer a real possibility, County Supervisor Dianne Jacob and public safety officials today urged residents to protect their homes against wildfires by creating a 100-foot buffer zone.
“Now is the time to prepare for what is shaping up as a tougher-than-usual fire season,” said Supervisor Jacob. “The firestorms of 2003 and 2007 taught us that homes with defensible space are far more likely to survive than homes without it.”
May 12, 2013 (El Cajon)—California Governor Edmund G. Brown declared the past week “Wildfire Awareness Week.” On Thursday, the top brass fromr Cal-Fire and San Diego Sheriff’s Department addressed the media. ECM also spoke with Lakeside Division Chief R. Laff.
All officials are urging San Diego residents who live in the urban-rural interface, as well as rural areas to be ready for a severe fire season that’s started early. So far Cal Fire has responded to more than 1,100 wildfires already, which is 500 more than normal for this time of year. According to Cal Fire Chief Cal Fire Chief Dale Hutchinson, Southern Region Chief 40,000 acres burned last week.
Officials are urging residents to get ready and maintain 100-feet of defensible space. This is not optional; it is the law, as Chief Hutchinson told us, for those in the urban-wildland interface. Also clean your gutters, and other places where dry vegetation might accumulate. If you do any remodeling, look into the latest fire resistant materials. In addition, remove all tree branches that are within six feet of your home.
May 3, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – We are currently under severe fire conditions. Homeowners are advised to do the following if there are reports of wildland fires:
• Listen to local radio or TV stations for updated emergency information. Follow instructions of local officials regarding the safest escape route. (It may be different than you expect; wildland fires can change direction and speed up suddenly.)
• If you have one, turn on your FRS Radio and set it to your neighborhood’s channel and code. Check in, and continue to monitor for new information. Channel ______ Code _______
• If you believe the fire is too close to your location, evacuate immediately. (The fire may be moving too fast for officials to issue evacuation notifications.) Choose a route away from the fire and other potential fire hazards.
April 18, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Create a zone around your house that will slow the wildfire down and possibly direct it around your home. To do this, you must view your yard as a fuel source. Fire will only burn if fuel is present. Fuel can be your landscaping, woodpiles, decks, etc. To create your defensible space, take the following steps within 30 feet of your home, 50 feet if you live in a heavily treed area or 100 feet if your home is on a hillside. If you live in California, a minimum of 100 feet is required (some areas may require more. Check with your local fire department).
December 6, 2012 (San Diego's East County)--County Supervisor Dianne Jacob is again asking the California Public Utilities Commission to reject an attempt by San Diego Gas & Electric to bill its customers for the uninsured cost of the region’s 2007 wildfires and any future wildfire caused by the utility.
“I remain outraged at SDG&E’s incessant attempt to slap ratepayers with a massive invoice for the 2007 wildfires that scorched hundreds of thousands of acres in rural San Diego County,” Jacob wrote today in a letter to CPUC President Michael Peevey. “The notion that SDG&E cannot afford the costs of these fires is nonsense.”
November 29, 2012 (San Diego)--Today lawyers representing residents burned out by the 2007 Witch Creek, Rice and Guejito wildfires and attorneys for defendant San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) came before Superior Court Judge Richard E. L. Strauss in San Diego Superior Court to plead for victims who don't wish to settle to be given a trial date.
This is one of the most complex tort cases in recent San Diego history. It stemmed from the Witch Creek fire, which burned 197,990 acres and destroyed 1,124 homes. Although the California Public Utilities Commission has found that SDG&E lines caused these fires, many wildfire victims have yet to receive a penny in compensation five years after their homes and lives were destroyed. Some remain in trailers or other temporary housing five years after the fires.
Obama to Governors in path of Hurricane Sandy: "We will be there...making sure that we've got the best possible response."
By Miriam Raftery
October 28, 2012 (San Diego) – As Hurricane Sandy, one of the worst storms in memory, barrels toward the East Coast and wildfire season hits full stride here in San Diego's East County, voters should know that when asked about federal disaster relief at a debate among Republican primary presidential candidates, Mitt Romney called such spending “immoral.”
October 20, 2012 (San Diego)—Should SDG&E be allowed to charge ratepayers for the 2007 wildfires that it caused – as well as damage from any future fires? The utility has sought to set up a ““Wildfire Expense Balancing Account” (WEBA) that would allow it to recover its uninsured losses—regardless of whether the utility was negligent in failing to maintain its lines and equipment.
This week, two conflicting draft decisions from California Public Utilities representatives are fueling further controversy.
September 28, 2012 (San Diego) – You don’t know where you’ll be when the next wildfire or other major emergency hits San Diego County. But this week’s destructive Shockey Fire is our latest reminder that emergencies do happen here.
Starting today, you can download SD Emergency to your iPhone, iPad or Android phone or tablet to get critical emergency information wherever you are. The app is designed to keep residents and their families informed and safe throughout events likely to affect the region, such as wildfires, or potential threats, such as damaging earthquakes or terrorist events.
September 24, 2012 -- Dear EarthTalk: What is the scientific consensus on all the extreme weather we’ve been having—from monster tornadoes to massive floods and wildfires? Is there a clear connection to climate change? And if so what are we doing to be prepared? -- Jason Devine, Summit, PA