October 24, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning, which means that critical fire weather conditions are occurring now or will shortly.A combination of strong Santa Ana winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures will create explosive wildland fire growth potential.
Highest winds of up to 65 mph are forecast for late Thursday evening through early Saturday afternoon, with strong and gusty northeast to east winds. Dry conditions will continue through the weekend, though with weakening winds.
CPUC ISSUES CONFLICTING DRAFT DECISIONS ON WHETHER SDG&E MAY CHARGE CA RATEPAYERS FOR WILDFIRES CAUSED BY ITS POWER LINES
By Miriam Raftery
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.
JOHN REVELS WANTS VOTERS IN SAN MIGUEL FIRE DISTRICT TO HAVE A CHOICE ON RESTORING INDEPENDENCE FROM CAL-FIRE
By Janis Mork
October 16, 2012 (Spring Valley)- Civil engineer John Revels is running for the San Miguel Fire Board. In an exclusive interview with East County Magazine, he shared his views on his candidacy and the future of the fire district.
Revels was motivated to run because, “I got a flyer of what was going on at San Miguel fire board. I have nothing against Cal Fire; they are a great organization. I wanted to keep San Miguel independent as it’s always been [before the merger with Cal Fire]. So a year ago, I started attending meetings and talking to people, and I also went to meetings to speak to the board at Cuyamaca College.”
JPA is first in California involving a Native American tribe
By Miriam Raftery
October 18, 2012 (El Cajon ) – The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians and Heartland Fire Training Authority this week announced that they have entered into a historic Joint Powers Agreement (JPA).
“This JPA finally allows Viejas to have a seat at the table and have a full and meaningful partnership with other fire agencies that we’ve worked with for years in a very productive way,” said Viejas Fire Chief Don Butz. “Ultimately, this benefits the entire region, since wildfires and other natural disasters do not recognize geographic, political or other borders. We are all stronger and better protected when we work and train together.”
October 18, 2012 (Pala) -- The Pala Fire Department along with the Pala Band of Mission Indians will hold its 7th Annual Fire Prevention Fair on October 20, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Pala Fire Station on Hwy 76 in Pala. This event is free and open to the public.
Fundraiser a success, but more help is needed: “wish list” provided for families who lost homes
By Miriam Raftery
October 17, 2012 (Jacumba/Boulevard)—Ray Ritter, 2, and his parents are among nine families who lost everything in the Shockey Fire last month. The home they were renting burned to the ground and they had no insurance. But that’s just the latest in a string of tragedies for the Ritters.
“Dad died September 14,” Monica Ritter told ECM. “His memorial service was Sept. 20 and on the 21st, our house burned down.”
ECM met the Ritter family at a fundraiser for Shockey Fire victims held last Friday at the Jacumba community center, where firefighters and community members turned out to raise $1,378.59. The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation had already given over $3500 to the families during recovery after the fire—but now fire victims need additional help to rebuild their lives as the cold season draws near.
October 18, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – The National Weather service has issued a hazardous weather statement for our region. Elevated fire weather conditions are forecast for the next week due to hot, dry conditions in the mountains and gusty northeast to east winds in deserts and foothills. The most severe conditions are expected Thursday.
Yesterday, record high temperatures were set in El Cajon (102), Ramona (98) and Escondido (100).
RAMONA CERT SEEKS MATCHING FUNDS TO COMPLETE EMERGENCY TRAILER TO BE BASED IN SAN DIEGO COUNTRY ESTATES
October 17, 2012 (Ramona) -- Ramona CERT was among eight beneficiaries named in the inaugural 2012 awards made by the newly formed affiliate of The San Diego Foundation, The Ramona Community Foundation. The team was presented with a check for $4,000 during a reception at the Ramona Community Library on Saturday, October 6.
Pictured from L-R: Shelley Stefanyszyn, Don Scott, John Degenfelder, Chair-The Ramona Community Foundation, Wes Brustad*, Board Mbr-The Ramona Community Foundation, Cal-Fire Battalion Chief Burke Kremensky, Barry Davis*, and Philip Savage. Photo Credit: Maureen Robertson *San Diego Country Estates’ residents
By Janis Mork
October 11, 2012 (Spring Valley)- Retiree Randy Dibb wants to run for the San Miguel fire board because he has “concern for the district” and wants to bring “changes.” His values include satisfying the needs of the constituents coupled with the dramatic changes in the way the district does business, and putting together a viable budget within the current concerns of the district.
By Janis Mork
October 10, 2012 (Spring Valley)- Fire captain/paramedic Dave Rickards hopes to get re-elected to the San Miguel Fire Board because “I care about the community I want the best fire protection in the community I live in.” The three-term incumbent is a district resident since 1990, spent 29 years in the fire service in El Cajon, and currently sits on the Heartland Communications Commission. He is also the Districts’ representative Finance Committee.” He adds, “We’re all training each other and we all have agreements that help each other out.”
He is also a U.S. Navy vet, a USS Midway volunteer, and a private pilot. He is currently a Company Engines Officer in the Fletcher Hills Community of El Cajon.
Former Chief Runs Against One of the Board Members Who Fired Him
By Mark Gabrish Conlan
October 8, 2012 (Lakeside) – The Lakeside Fire Protection District contains 55 square miles of land, 65,000 people, and according to its website, http://www.lakesidefire.net, “is primarily suburban residential but also has several core commercial zones, some light industry, and many rural/agricultural properties.” It has a significant wildland/urban interface — firefighter-speak for places where homebuilders have butted developments up against forests and other wild areas. In the last decade, that has proven a recipe for brewing out-of-control fires that have threatened properties and claimed lives—particularly here in Lakeside, which has been devastated by several of the worst wildfires in county history.
October 11, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Shockey Fire survivors can still get guidance by going online to the County’s recovery web site, www.sdcountyrecovery.com.
Over the weekend, the County closed its Local Assistance Center at the Jacumba Library after helping 25 residents with basic needs, debris cleanup tips or service, rebuilding, vital records, information on property tax relief, insurance claims and public assistance. About two dozen governmental and nonprofit organizations were available at the Jacumba Library through Saturday.
By Janis Mork
October 8, 2012 (Spring Valley)- Incumbent Karrie Johnston Scully hopes to get re-elected to the San Miguel fire board this November. In an exclusive interview with ECM, she shares her goals which include holding Cal Fire accountable for promises made when the Board voted to outsource services to the state fire agency.
October 8, 2012 – The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has compiled a list of disaster apps and mobile optimized web pages in its Disaster Information Management Research Center. Most of the apps are available for both iPhone and Android devices.
October 8, 2012 (East County, San Diego) -- It only takes seconds for a fire to grow out of control, making escape from a fire impossible. That's why CAL FIRE is urging people to, "Have 2 Ways Out" of their home. In the event of a fire, remember that every second counts, so you and your family must always be prepared. Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly. Prepare and practice your fire escape plan regularly with everyone in your household, including children and people with disabilities.
By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
October 8, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – The National Weather Service (NWS) issues Red Flag Warnings & Fire Weather Watches to alert fire departments and land management agencies about the onset, or possible onset, of critical weather and fuel moisture conditions that could lead to rapid or dramatic increases in wildfire activity. This could be due to low relative humidity, strong winds, dry fuels, or any combination thereof.
October 6, 2012 (San Diego) – The Scripps Ranch Fire Safe Council will host its 6th annual “Play to Protect” Charity Golf Tournament on October 20 at The Vineyard Golf Course, 925 San Pasqual Rd., Escondido. The event begins at 1 p.m. and features a fun day of golf and a selection of auction items and raffle prizes.
October 4, 2012 (East County, San Diego) -- Heartland Fire & Rescue will be hosting three Fire Open House events on Saturday, October 13, 2012 in Lemon Grove, El Cajon and La Mesa.
This is an opportunity to receive free safety tools and important lessons for you and your children.
October 4, 2012 (San Diego) – County Assessor/Recorder/Clerk Ernest Dronenburg wishes to advise all property owners whose property was damaged or destroyed during the recent Shockey Fire that property tax relief is available. This tax relief program requires the reassessment of the property to reflect its damaged condition. The reduced value will remain in effect until such time as the property is rebuilt or repaired.
October 4, 2012 (Campo) – As CAL FIRE neared containment on the 2,851 acre Shockey Fire burning near the community of Campo in San Diego County, firefighters credited new technology in the success of the incident. For the past year, firefighters have been aided by the development of a new project called Next Generation Incident Command System, or “NICS”. The new technology is funded by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate and developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Lincoln Labs with major participation from CAL FIRE. Especially this year with the increased fire activity, CAL FIRE has been the perfect test bed for the new technology.
Six wildfires earlier this summer in East County were caused by target shooting
By Miriam Raftery
October 1, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Cal Fire investigators have pinpointed the origin of the Shockey Fire to an area where illegal target shooting was taking place on state land near Shockey Truck Trail, Mike Mohler of Cal Fire informed ECM today.
Investigators are not yet certain that shooting caused the fire, but if so, the shooter could be held liable for damages including loss of 11 homes and death of an elderly resident, Mohler confirmed in an exclusive interview with ECM. Cal-Fire urges anyone with information on the Shockey Fire to call the Arson Hotline at 800-468-4408.
By Nadin Abbott
October 2, 2012 (Alpine)-- An Alpine firefighter was overcome by heat at a house fire on Via Dieguenos Road. According to Battalion Chief Brad Rushing, Alpine Fire Department, the firefighter was overcome partly due to the triple digit high temperatures that prevail in the area. He was taken care of by field medics and transported in stable condition as a precaution by a Viejas medic unit to the hospital.
September 28, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Cal-Fire reports that a 4-acre grass fire off Matthew Court in Ramona has been halted, with no damage to structures. In addition, the Skyline Fire in Jamul has been stopped at a quarter of an acre west of Lyons Valley Road and Mountain Valley Road.
September 27, 2012 (El Cajon) – The Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College will offer a fire-wise gardening seminar with Greg Rubin, native plant expert from California’s Own Native Landscape Design. Cost is $20 for members, $28 for nonmembers. The program will be held on Saturday, September 29 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon.
For more information or to register, visit http://www.thegarden.org/calendar/index.php
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.
By Miriam Raftery
September 27, 2012 (El Cajon ) – It was the hottest party in town last night at the El Cajon Brewing Company, where a “Beer Bash Benefit” was held to raise funds for East County Magazine’s wildfire reporting and to encourage the public to sign up for ECM's free Viejas Wildfire & Emergency Alerts.
The event raised nearly $3,500, including a generous $2,500 donation from the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians. Charlie Brown, director of Community Relations for Viejas, and Chief Don Butz of Viejas Fire were on hand to make the presentation.
The following details were provided in a press release from the district, which has been plagued by budget shortfalls, contentious public meetings, and labor-management disputes in recent years.
September 27, 2012 (Spring Valley) -- The San Miguel Consolidated Fire Protection District’s Board of Directors voted onSeptember 25 to approve a Cooperative Service Agreement with CAL FIRE. The Board voted unanimously to approve the five and a half-year agreement. Board President Chris Winter said, “This Cooperative Agreement allows the District to proceed with a balanced budget, maintain the current level of service for our residents and provide for the long-term viability of the District.
September 27, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)—The Shockey Fire is now 100% contained, after destroying 11 homes, 14 outbuildings, and 11 vehicles. The blaze also claimed the life of an elderly resident and injured three firefighters.
By Nadin Abbott
Photos by Tom and Nadin Abbott
September 26, 2012 (Boulevard)—Around five in the afternoon, as the sun was starting to set, the first residents of Boulevard’s Tierra del Sol neighborhood began to come home. There was anxiety in some faces, as well as relief on others, as they learned what state their properties were in –and whether their homes had survived the devastating 2,850 acre Shockey Fire that destroyed 11 homes and claimed the life of an elderly man.
September 29, 2012 (Alpine) – The Alpine Fire Protection District is looking for community volunteers who want to be trained as CERT members. CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team. CERT members learn how to protect themselves, their family and their community in the event of a major disaster.