Update Feb. 22, 2019 10:26 a.m. This morning the Julian Times posted a photo on its Facebook page showing Cal Fire/CFA engines purportedly stuck in snow. Scroll down for the image.
In addition, Times of San Diego forwarded this aerial video provided by a Julian resident showing Cal Fire engines in heavy snow at the station this morning: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1C6U3pTQIY3W7UJd2Jd6EC-wHghTwzEqp/view?fbclid=IwAR2CcW9R9b5rPvicADyqPXU_XtYJ4DhBe87yicG5lihg12g-g7VLkoMti44
By Miriam Raftery
Photo by Rachel Goddard,, JCFPD volunteers clear a tree blocking a snowy road.
February 22, 2019 (Julian) -- With up to two feet of snow blanketing the mountains of East County last night, a post circulating on social media and sent to ECM last night contained a screenshot that appeared to be a screen shot from a County Fire Authority social media page. The post stated that its Cal Fire Station 51 in Julian and a fire engine "is unable to respond to calls and is out of service due to the growing snow conditions." (See screenshot below.)
But this morning, Cal Fire Deputy Chief Nick Schuler told ECM that the image and its message was "false" and not an official Cal Fire page. He said Cal Fire engines were in operation responding to calls at the time. Schuler blamed advocates of a contentious ballot initiative to keep the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District independent for circulating what he states was a hoax. ECM has requested call logs for the evening from both agencies.
Volunteer firefighters with the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District sent ECM a photo last night demonstrating a can-do spirit as they continued to serve their community during the emergency conditions, responding to calls for medical assistance and removing a downed tree. (Photo, left, courtey of the JCFPD.)
JCFPD Chief Mike Van Bibber told ECM today that he is confident the post did not originate with his firefighters. He added that one of his team owns a backhoe that was used to keep the JCFPD station clear for engines' access.
After we received Schuler's statement, this morning the Julian Times posted this photo on their Facebook page which appears to show two CFA engines temporarily blocked in by snow:
The contention between the two agencies during blizzard conditions will no doubt add fuel to the fire as JCFPD voters prepare to vote by mail in a March election to determine whether the county's last all-volunteer fire department will be dissolved and its duties transferred to the County Fire Authority/Cal Fire, or remain independent.
Van Bibber notes that during emergencies, "Why wouldn't you want both teams up here working?"
A yes vote would approve dissolving the district and would replace volunteers with Cal Fire professional firefighters, while a no vote opposes the takeover and would retain the district and keep trained volunteers who live on the mountain to respond emergencies in their community, with Cal Fire as backup.