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RED FLAG WARNING: FIRE WEATHER WATCH

November 3, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for high fire risk in San Diego's mountains and a less severe fire watch in inland valley areas. The alerts start at 7 p.m. Sunday night through 4 p.m. Monday.  The red flag warning is issued due to low humidity and gusty winds forecast up to 30 mph. 

Temperatures should begin cooling later in the week, with partially cloudy weather and a chance of rain Thursday through Saturday.

STATE FIRE TAX NOTICES NOW HITTING LOCAL MAILBOXES

November 3, 2012 (Sacramento) – State officials have started mailing notices to tens of thousands of San Diego County property owners warning that they will soon be billed $150 annually to help shore up Cal Fire’s budget. Budget cuts have dropped the number of firefighters per engine, among other cutbacks in wildfire protection.

Residents of Alpine, Dehesa and other communities in Jacob’s Second District report receiving the notices in recent days. They consider the new fire tax an unfair burden, noting they already pay state property taxes to help fund public safety and often community fees for additional fire protection.

“WISH LIST” FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILES WHO LOST HOMES IN THE SHOCKEY FIRE

November 2, 2012 (Boulevard) – Thanks to our generous readers who helped raise several thousand dollars plus supplies to benefit 11 families who lost homes in the recent Shockey fire.

“So many wonderful people are out there with wonderful caring hearts,” Lorrie Ostrander, who organized a fundraising event for fire survivors told ECM.  Some fire surivors are now placed in old trailers donated and others are on the Campo reservation. "A home is what we make of it and for now they are thankful for life,” said Ostrander, adding that items needed most now are cooking utensils, curtains, towels, bedding, dishes and toys. 

She also offered this “wish list” for the kids for Chirstmas:  a girl's bike for a 10 year old, sports items for a boy, 9, who lost his baseball bat, ball, football and basketball, and a motorized toy truck for a 2-year-old whose treasured truck was lost to the flames.

BRUSH FIRE IN EL CAJON: STRUCTURES THREATENED

Update:  ECM news partner 10 News reports that this fire was started by El Cajon Police SWAT team conducting training exercises at a shooting range near Gillespie Field. 

Homes on Hacienda were threatened but did not burn, however one firefighter was transported to Grossmont Hospital in stable condition with a knee injury. 

Lt. M. Coit with El Cajon Police offered this statement.  "The smoke canister was deployed as part of an El Cajon Police Department SWAT Team training exercise.  The SWAT Team followed all safety precautions, however underestimated the weather conditions. The El Cajon SWAT Team is currently re-evaluating the safety procedures for the deploying of such devises.  The Heartland Fire Department will provide additional training to ensure that similar events do not occur. The El Cajon Police Department regrets any inconvenience to residents in the area."

BRUSH FIRE DOUSED NEAR SCHOOLS IN RANCHO SAN DIEGO

By Paul Kruze

View a video of the fire

October 26, 2012 (Rancho San Diego)--A brush fire brought out the full firefighting strength of several fire districts on Friday afternoon. The blaze broke out at 3:15 p.m. on a mountain near Avenida Anacapa and Avenida Antiqua in Rancho San Diego. 

According to Leonard Villareal, public information officer for the San Miguel Fire District, the fire was confined to a 2.5 mile area and by 4:30 p.m., the firefighting operation was reduced to mop up situation. Although the location of the fire was near Rancho San Diego Elementary School and Hillsdale Middle School, students were let out of class on a normal schedule. 

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: HIGH WIND SAFETY TIPS

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

October 25, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)--Wildfires are a major concern for us beginning today and into the weekend says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. Warm temperatures, with wind gusts anticipated to reach up to 60 mph in wind prone areas with relative humidity expected to be in the single digit area with little over-night recovery.

This warning applies to most all of the Southern California area. If a wildfire fire does develop under these conditions anticipate a rapid rate of spread due to low fuel moisture content!

RED FLAG WARNING ISSUED FOR "EXPLOSIVE" WILDFIRE POTENTIAL

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.”

VIEJAS AND HEARTLAND FIRE TRAINING AUTHORITY FORGE JOINT POWERS AGREEMENT

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.”

PALA FIRE DEPARTMENT TO HOST 7TH ANNUAL FIRE PREVENTION FAIR OCTOBER 20

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.

HELP NEEDED FOR SHOCKEY FIRE VICTIMS AS WINTER APPROACHES

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.

FIRE WEATHER WARNING

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

RANDY DIBB WANTS TO BRING CHANGE TO SAN MIGUEL FIRE BOARD

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.

DAVE RICKARDS SEEKS REELECTION TO SAN MIGUEL FIRE BOARD

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.

CANDIDATES' VALUES CLASH IN LAKESIDE FIRE DISTRICT RACE

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.

FIRE RECOVERY GUIDANCE STILL AVAILABLE ONLINE

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.

KARRIE JOHNSTON SCULLY STANDS BY DECISIONS, SEEKS RE-ELECTION TO SAN MIGUEL FIRE BOARD

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.

DISASTER APPS & MOBILE OPTIMIZED WEB PAGES

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.

CAL FIRE’S ADVICE: HAVE 2 WAYS OUT- NATIONAL FIRE PREVENTION WEEK OCTOBER 7-13

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.

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: WHAT ARE RED FLAG WARNINGS?

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.

6TH ANNUAL “PLAY TO PROTECT” CHARITY GOLF TOURNAMENT IS OCTOBER 20

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.

HEARTLAND FIRE AND RESCUE OPEN HOUSE EVENTS OCTOBER 13, 2012

 

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.

DISASTER RELIEF FOR SHOCKEY FIRE SURVIVORS: TIPS FROM THE TAX ASSESSOR

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.

NEW TECHNOLOGY USED AT THE SHOCKEY FIRE

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.

ILLEGAL SHOOTING SUSPECTED AS CAUSE OF SHOCKEY FIRE CAUSE

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.

ALPINE FIREFIGHTER OVERCOME BY HEAT AT HOUSE FIRE

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. 

2 SMALL FIRES HALTED IN JAMUL AND RAMONA

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.

PROTECT YOUR HOME: FIRESCAPING WITH NATIVE PLANTS SEPT. 29

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

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