Update: ECM reporter Henri Migala was volunteering at the South Bay Gun Club with a group that spotted a fire about a mile to the southeast and called 911 around 3 p.m. Migala headed south to cover the fire when he was an SUV kicking up a cloud of dust, doing “donuts” in the dirt when it rolled into a gully.
“He must have either lost control, or couldn't see where he was because of all the dust. He ran off the road, through barbed-wire fence, and rolled into a ditch. We immediately called 911 again for him,” Migala told ECM. “I drove down to offer assistance. The driver was still in the car talking with a 911 dispatcher.”
The driver made it out of the vehicle after a few minutes. He said he wasn't hurt, but he was visibly shaken and unsteady on his feet, Migala said, adding that a Cal-Fire truck from Dulzura arrive and offered assistance. The Cal Fire driver initially thought reports of a fire might have been due to people mistaking the dust clouds for smoke, but Migala clarified that there was a fire visible to the south.
After calling for more help for the motorist, Cal Fire’s crew headed south to check out the fire. Migala followed the firetruck along Marron Valley Road. “We reached a point in the road, high on a hill/mt, where we could look down on one the fire. There was another fire about a half further east from us,” Migala reports. “The CalFire guys decided to stay there and just observe the fire. It was heading in a direction that was not threatening people or property.”
Migala indicates Cal Fire firefighters said the fire was in Mexico and they didn't have authority to go fight it. “They said it was in Cottonwood Creek,” said Migala, adding that Google Maps indicated the fire was at the junction of Tecate Creek and the Tijuana River, right along the border, possibly on the U.S. side.
“IF CalFire wanted to go into Mexico to fight a fire, it would require official coordination with the Consulate and Border Patrol; the fire fighters would need their passports,” said Migala, adding that Cal Fire indicated U.S. firefighting planes however can fly up to two miles into Mexico to fight a fire.
“The fire we were watching was small but had probably grown from the size of a basketball court to several football fields in an hour, and was slowly spreading.
The area was mostly just grassland with scattered bushes and trees. The fire would creep along the grasses until it came across a bush or tree, flare up as it engulfed the tree, bush, and then keep going along the grass,” said Migala, adding that there were cattle and sheep in the valley upwind from the blaze.
Later another Cal Fire truck arrived, along with a Fire Chief. “The two fire trucks stayed. The Fire Chief drove down into the valley to get a better look at the second fire that was about 1/2 mile away,’” Migala said.