Update 5:30 p.m. - Evacuations are now mandatory due to spread of the Wilson Fire toward Ranchita. Reverse 911 calls have been made to 228 homes. An evacuation center has been set up by the Red Cross at Warner Springs High School, 30951 Highway 79. A large animal evacuation station has been established at Love Acre Ranch, 35490 Highway 79, Warner springs.
August 14, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – The Vallecito Lightning Complex southeast of Julian near Vallecito has charred 2,352 acres and is now 30% contained. Cost to suppress this fire is $805,000. Two fires are also continuing to burn near Scissors Crossing northeast of Julian. The Wilson Fire has burned 1,400 acres and is 5% contained. The Stewart Fire is 0% contained and has burned 600 acres so far, Cal Fire reports.
All fires are now burning in the vicinity of Anza Borrego Desert State Park. No structures are threatened and cause remains under investigation, however lightning is the likely origin as there were multiple lightning strikes in the vicinity.
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.
By Tom and Nadin Abbott
Miriam Raftery also contributed to this report
August 10, 2012 (Chihuahua Valley) 3:30 a.m. – Hundreds of firefighters from across California have been called in to defend 60 homes in Chihuahua Valley, a box canyon northeast of Warner Springs. View a map.
The area contains stands of old-growth oak trees estimated at 400 years old, according to residents.
Residents, shut out of the area, fear for livestock trapped inside without access to water--and some people may be trapped, a property owner at the scene told ECM.
Energia Sierra Juarez Substation and Cross-Border Transmission Lines Also Approved in East County
By Miriam Raftery
“This will impede firefighting efforts to a frightening degree…a wind-drive fire is not going to stay in the backcountry. We must not roll the dice…There are other, safer alternatives….I also have serious problems about an energy policy that depends on the stability of Mexico.” –Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who voted against both projects
“I’m opposed to green energy…I don’t think the Department of Energy should be putting subsidies in this….but the state has mandated renewable and we have to comply.” – Supevisor Bill Horn, who voted for both projects
August 9, 2012 (San Diego) – The irony was enormous. San Diego’s Board of Supervisors yesterday spent much of the morning debating whether cell phone towers five feet taller than current ones would mar community character on Mount Helix. In the afternoon, three of the five Supervisors then threw county height limits to the winds—voting to approve 500-foot-tall industrial wind turbines in scenic McCain Valley over the objections of numerous backcountry residents.
By a 4-0 vote, Supervisors also approved a power substation and cross-border transmission lines designed to bring power up from the massive Energia Sierra Juarez wind project proposed in Mexico.
August 9, 2012 (Warner Springs)--Reverse 911/AlertSanDiego contacted residents in Chihuahua Valley at 10 p.m. to tell them sheriff's deputies would be conducting mandatory evacuations due to the Chihuahua Fire. Residents need to be prepared to evacuate when called upon by deputies to do so.
Residents will be able to evacuate to Warner Springs High School at 30951 State Route 79. Large animals will be able to evacuate to Love Acre Ranch at 35490 State Route 79.
All residents are asked to remain aware of their surroundings and to stay tuned to local radio and television stations for updates. If you require emergency assistance with evacuating or have another emergency call 911. For all other information call 211.
Update 9:05 p.m. - 6 airtankers and 6 helicopters have been ordered for first light in the morning.
Update 8:40 p.m. : The Chihuahua Fire is now 900 acres and 0% contained. There are 31 engines, 12 fire crews, 4 water tenders, and 3 bulldozers and approximately 230 firefighters. More resources have been ordered, says Cal Fire's Roxanne Provaznik.
August 9, 2012 (Warner Springs) – The Chihuahua Fire near Warner Springs has swelled to 275 acres and may soon merge with another blaze, the West Branch Fire, near Santa Ysabel, ECM has learned.
Update 6 p.m. - The Chihuahua Fire is now in the Warner Springs area, threatening to jump firelines, Cal Fire reports. The blaze is 125 acres.
August 9, 2012 – A major brush fire at Highway 79 and Chihuahua Valley Road in the Poway area is now more than 100 acres. The likely cause was a lightning strike, Cal Fire reports. Traffic control is in effect with access limited to residents only.
A second fire just south of the Chihuahua Fire is now 25 acres in size, spreading rapidly. Additional strike teams and crews have been dispatched to the scene.
In addition, a brush fire at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside is burning in a heavy stand of trees, with smoke affecting traffic on I-5.
Update: 3:40: Cal Fire has cancelled resources not yet at the scene; fires have totalled less than half an acre, per latest estimate. Two lanes of I-8 east have been reopened, CHP reports.
Update 3:25 p.m.: Multiple small fires are burning on both sides of Alpine Blvd., Cal Fire's Roxanne Provaznik reports. The fire is spreading slowly and there are no immediate threats to structures.
By Miriam Raftery
August 1, 2012 (Sacramento)—The Fire Districts Association of California has sent a letter to its members advising that the State is preparing to notify property owners within State Responsbility Areas (SRA) of the new $150 annual fee for fire prevention services under Assembly Bill 29—even if people are within an existing fire district.
“The local fire districts are placed in the unenviable position of shouldering the day to day expenses of providing services, while onerous fees are imposed on their constituents without any direct benefit to the jurisdictions,” states the FDAC, which opposed the bill and warns that the measure could imperial public safety.
Report provided by Sam Giovanna, East County Magazine’s in-house fire chief
August 1, 2012 (San Diego) – A brush fire burning in Murrieta near the San Diego County border at La Cresta/Camp Pendleton has charred 400 acres. As of 9 p.m., the blaze in 50% contained. Smoke drift is visible in northern San Diego County.
Cause of the fire was motorized equipment used to clear brush, Cal Fire investigators have found.
By Miriam Raftery
July 31, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – With County Supervisors poised to consider approval of Tule Wind and a wind ordinance that could open much of fire-prone East County to wind energy development, a wildland fire that started at a wind turbine facility in Riverside County last month provides fuel for opponents concerned about fire risks posed by industrial-scale wind projects.
“The fire started with the windmill itself,” Captain Greg Ewing with Cal Fire/Riverside Fire Department informed ECM today.
Despite extensive area cleared around the base of each turbine, Ewing said, the blaze still spread into a wildland fire that swiftly engulfed 367 acres. If not for prompt reporting by a witness, it could have been far worse.
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.
Story and photos by Nadin Abbott
July 25, 2012 (Jamul)-- A brush fire that began at or near 128480 Proctor Valley Road in Jamul shortly after 4 p.m. was knocked down by a massive, multiple agency response that included over 100 firefighters from at least a half dozen fire departments.
The road at Proctor Valley Road and Echo Valley Road was hard- blocked, preventing access to the scene this evening. It is a narrow road, and heavy fire equipment needed the room to maneuver. Authorities indicated it was also shut down on the Chula Vista side.
Update 5:20 p.m.: The fire's forward spread has been stopped at 20 acres, Cal Fire's Roxanne Provaznik reports. No structures were burned. Proctor Valley Road remains closed between Chula Vista and Jamul. Echo Way is also closed but should be opened soon.
Update, 6:20 p.m.: Smoke south of I-8 is from fire on the Mexican side of the border, per CalFire. A Border Patrol agent told ECM the fire was about two miles south of the international border.
July 22, 2012 -- According to CalFire, the forward spread of the Dehesa brush fire at 4700 Dehesa Boulevard has been stopped. The fire is holding at 15 acres. Smoke may still be seen from Crest, and surrounding areas.
July 20, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – A 1,500 fire burning in Mexico is putting up a lot of smoke visible across East County, but poses no current threat to the U.S., Cal-Fire spokesman Mike Mohler told ECM.
The fire is currently burning southwest of Otay Mountain. It did cross briefly into the U.S. late today, burning approximately one acre in a creek bed. “We have one engine out there keeping an eye on it,” Mohler added.
Update 8:45 p.m. -- This border fire is burning in the Tecate creek in Mexico. Cal Fire crews on the U.S. side estimate it at 500 acres.
July 19, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – A 30-acre fire is burning in Mexico, just south of Marron Valley Road and Otay Truck Trail. A Cal-Fire official informed ECM that the agency has crews monitoring the situation.
An ECM reader advises that air tankers have arrived to battle the blaze.
A brush fire that began near High Street at Buena Vista Avenue in La Mesa tonight briefly threatened homes and sent smoke billowing up that was visible on SR-94. The fire was quickly doused by Heartland Fire, however High Street is closed for mop-up.
Update: As of late last night, the fire was 300 acres and 60% contained. Training exercises are believed to have caused the blaze, ECM has learned. No structures are threatened.
July 16, 2012 (Camp Pendleton) – A brush fire on Camp Pendleton is generating smoke visible from across North County. As of 8 p.m., the fire has grown to over 130 acres, Gunnery Sgt. Paul McQuigg told the North County Times.