Updated June 20, 2012 to include SDG&E's response
By Miriam Raftery
June 18, 2012 (Alpine) – A transformer fire broke out this afternoon at the site of the new Sunrise Powerlink, where the high voltage line had just been energized, Incident Page Network reports.
“I can confirm that two transformers are on fire,” said Lori Bledsoe, editor at The Alpine Sun. The transformers are taking power from the underground portion of the Powerlink and transferring the electricity into overhead lines, she added.
Cal-Fire issues no burn proclamation for backcountry
New! View a video of the fire by Daren Sefcik, taken yesterday
Update 12:00 p.m.-- Cal Fire reports the Old Fire is now 907% and still 30% contained. "Firefighters are making good progress with the fire, however the winds have increased, which could cause problems," said Roxanne Provaznik at Cal Fire. The are continuing to patrol the fire and mop up hot spots."
UPDATE July 18, 2012: SDG&E has informed ECM that the Old Fire was not started by Sunrise Powerlink. “The fire started on June 17 near Miller Valley,” Hanan Eisenman, communications manager, stated in an e-mail received June 18. “At the closest point, Sunrise is two miles away. Therefore, this has nothing to do with the Sunrise Powerlink.”
Cause of the fire, which is now over 820 acres, remains under investigation, per Cal Fire.
Update 10:05 p.m.: This fire is now 450 acres, spreading rapidly. an estimated 150 homes are threatened and the blaze is zero percent contained. A travel trailer has been destroyed.
Road closures: Old 80 x La Posta rd, Old 80 x Crestwood, Hwy 94 x Church Rd, and Crestwood 2 miles east of Golden Acorn Casino. There are 15 engine, 2 handcrews, 1 dozer, 4 airplanes, and 3 helicopters assigned. A shelter has been set up at Golden Acorn Casino. A Cal-Fire spokesman told ECM there is room in the parking lot for trailered livestock as well. An earlier report that Golden Acorn had evacuated proved incorrect.
June 11, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Approximately 443 households are without power as a 450-acre wildfire rages in or near their communities, ECM has learned.
Is it just coincidence that earlier today, electricity was switched on to the 500 kilovolt (kv) Sunrise Powerlink for the first time, as UT San Diego reported today?
At 2:53 p.m., SDG&E’s website states that “a combination of factors has caused a problem with a substation.”
According to Cal-Fire, the wildfire, called the Old Fire, began around 3 p.m.
June 17,2012 (Valley Center) – A fire that began in the 15000 block of Woods Valley Road is now 100% contained, the San Diego Sheriff reports. The fire, which began around 4 pm near North Lake Wohlford Road and Woods Valley Road, prompted evacuations late this afternoon.
June 17, 2012 (Campo)—The Golden Acorn Casino in Campo has been evacuated as a precaution, Cal-Fire spokesperson Roxanne Provaznik advises. The Old Fire is now 300 acres at 7:40 p.m. Winds have shifted, pushing the fire east toward Boulevard.
“High temperatures and erratic winds are hampering firefighting efforts,” Provaznik advised.
Update 6:55 p.m. - The fire is now estimated at 250 acres.
Update 5:20 p.m. - The Old Fire in Campo has grown to 100 acres. There are conflicting reports on whether Golden Acorn Casino s is being evacuated or whether casino-goers will be sheltered in place. ECM is awaiting confirmation from Cal-Fire. Due to access issues a new command post may be established at Royal Road and Old Highway 80.
This fire was held at 10 acres. Firefighters will continue to monitor the area during the night.
June 17, 2012 (San Diego) -- A brush fire is burning along northbound I-15 at Friar's Road, burning in a ravine heading east, on the opposite site of a gas plant nearby. CHP has ordered the freeway shut down for 2-3 hours. Evacuations have been ordered of homes in the area.
Update 5:30 p.m. This fire was contained at 8 acres, Cal Fire reports.
June 17, 2012 (Potrero) - Cal-Fire is on the scene of a 6-acre brush fire on Potrero Valley Road in Potrero, Incident Page Network reports. The fire is reportedly spreading at a slow rate of speed. Watch for update soon.
June 12, 2012 (El Cajon) – A brush fire this evening at Lavala Lane and Highway 8 Business loop in El Cajon charred at least two acares, forcing evacuations in the area briefly, Incident Page Network reported. Helicopters dropped water on the blaze, swiftly bringing it under control.
Heartland Fire Dispatch reports units are now being released from the scene.
June 11, 2012 (Tecate)—A Mexican newspaper reports that a forest fire which began east of Tecate on the Mexican side of the border has consumed hundreds of square meters of vegetation, including wildland areas and crops. The blaze is burning toward Mexicali; cause is unknown.
A forest-fire fighting brigade is battling the blaze, which has produced a cloud of smoke visible in East County. The fire is burning near several electrical towers with high-voltage lines.
June 11, 2012 (San Diego) -- A SIG ALERT has been issued for I-8 eastbound at College Avenue due to a brush fire. Two lanes are now blocked, Cal-Trans reports. Expect traffic delays.
June 10, 2012 (Lakeside) – San Diego County’s third wildfire in one day has charred several acres in El Monte Valley on the north side of Lake Jennings near El Monte Park. No structures are threatened, according to Cal Fire.
“Two water helos and two bombers out of Ramona are knocking it down pretty quick,” reader Charley Barranco e-mailed ECM late today. “Only white smoke is showing.”
- Listen to your portable radio for reports and evacuation information.
- Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape.
- Close garage windows and doors, but leave them unlocked.
- Confine pets to one room.
- Arrange temporary housing.
- When advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Wear protective clothing.
- Take your emergency kit.
- Lock your home.
- Follow the evacuation route that your local officials have identified.
Update June 10, 2012 6 p.m. - The Horse fire has been stopped at 12 acres, Lakeside Fire Chief Andy Parr told ECM. Fixed wing aircraft and helicopters were used to battle the blaze under a unified command with Cal-Fire. No homes were lost, Chief Parr confirmed.
East County Magazine editor Miriam Raftery will be a guest on WindWise Radio. The network, which specializes in wind energy issues, broadcasts nationally via live-stream over the Internet.
The show starts at 4 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, with Raftery slated at 4:40. She will talk about new developments with the Ocotillo Express and Tule Wind projects locally.
Preston Arrowweed, an elder in the Quechan tribe which has filed a lawsuit seeking to halt the project, will also be a guest on the program.
Listen live at http://www.windwiseradio.org and please call in with your questions and comments at (213)943-3683! Tis is a great chance to air your concerns on wind issues nationally.
Update 3:50 pm. The highway is expected to reopen by 6 p.m., starting with one-way traffic. Traffic is being diverted up Old Highway 80 over the Sunrise Highway currently.
Update: 2:25 p.m. These fires have been held to a total of 12 acres; air tankers are being dismissed. Fire is contained but not yet out; no structures were lost.
June 11, 2012 (Julian)—A fire near the Rodriguez Spur Truck Trail and Pacific Crest Trail charred three to five acres east of Julian near Banner grade today, Cal-Fire reports.
Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
CAL-FIRE offers tips for safe brush-clearing
June 4, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – CAL FIRE has sent a warning advising homeowners to use caution when clearing dead brush and grass. While creating defensible space is a critical step to prepare for wildfire season, as fire danger rises, unsafe use of power equipment can actually start a fire.
In fact, CAL FIRE’S Mike Mohler told ECM, the Banner Fire that charred 5,321 acres near Julian last week was caused by brush-clearing equipment.
May 29, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – The Banner Fire is now 100% contained, after scorching 5,321 acres. The blaze, which started in the Banner Grade area near Julian, cost $4 million in firefighting expenditures to date.
Note: ECM apologizes for not sending an alert on this incident. Our editor was away briefly and our assistant editor was left without power due to an SDG&E outage. Thanks to Cal-Fire and Donna Tisdale for the information provided below.
May 28, 2012 (Boulevard) – A vehicle collision severed a power pole near White Star Fire Station,, sparking a brush fire in the 2100 block of Tierra Del Sol in Boulevard this afternoon.
The fire burned four acres but was swiftly brought under control with no damage to structures, though several homes were in close proximity to the blaze.
May 27, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – The Banner Fire has burned 5,321 acres and is now 90 percent contained, Cal Fire reports. Full containment of the fire is expected Monday, when acreage estimates are also projected to increase due to more accurate mapping, Roxanne Provaznik at Cal-Fire said.
Residents Urged to Clear Defensible Space Ahead of Peak Fire Season
May 27, 2012 (Jamul) – On May 22, Cal Fire and County officials, including County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, gave a tour with the homeowners of a correctly cleared space around a Jamul home. With vegetation drying out and summer drawing near now is the best time to make sure homes are protected by 100 feet of defensible space. Cal Fire Chief, Thom Porter led the tour and provided a map of high-risk areas that have not burned recently.
Updated May 27, 2012, 10 a.m. -- The Banner Fire was held at 4,100 acres through the night and remains 65% contained. Fire suppression cost has reached $2 million. Excess resources are now being dismissed, according to Roxanne Provaznik with Cal-Fire.
May 26, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – The Banner Fire has burned 4,100 and is 65 percent contained as of 5 p.m. this evening, Cal Fire reports. There are currently no evacuations. The fire is burning in the Banner Grade area south of Highway 78 and east of Julian. All roads are now open.
May 25, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – The Banner Fire has now scorched 3,100 acres and cost $575,000 in fire suppression costs.
“Full control of the Banner Fire is expected on May 30th, and firefighters still have 12 miles of fireline to construct,” said Roxanne Provaznik at Cal-Fire. “The fire is burning primarily in grass and light brush. Strong erratic winds are driving the forward spread of the fire, poor road access, steep and rugged terrain hampers the firefighting efforts.”
Mandatory evacuation of the Stage Coach Trails RV Resort was lifted as of 6:00 p.m. State Parks resources, archaeological, cultural and sensitive habitat remain threatened.