Rural communities

VALLEY FIRE IN ALPINE THREATENS HOMES

Update 5:53 p.m.: The fire is now 1,500 acres. An evacuation order remains in effect for the community of Carve Acre.

Update 5:15 p.m.: Approximately 12,700 customers are without power as a result of the #ValleyFire. The fire is impacting SDG&E equipment in the vicinity of the fire. SDG&E has activated its Emergency Operations Center and is closely monitoring the fire. Additional cool zones are open this weekend (though not after 5pm): https://sdgenews.com/article/additional-cool-zone-hours-added-holiday-we...

Update 5:26 p.m.:  Cal Fire says the wildfire is moving west toward Lawson Valley. Those under evacuation orders can go to Steele Canyon High School at 12440 Campo Road, Spring Valley or Joan MacQueen Middle School at 2001 Tavern Road, Alpine.

Update 4:59 p.m.:  The Valley Fire is now 1,000 acres, per Cal Fire. Temperatures in the Alpine area have soared to 113 degrees.  Scanner traffic indicates a one-mile front on the fire burning toward Lawson Valley. A request for VBAT (very bit air tankers) has been denied due to them battling fires elsewhere.

Update 4:25 p.m.:  The Valley Fire is now 500 acres and zero percent contained. SDG&E's outage map indicates there are some power outages in the fire area. The Lawson Valley area in Jamul is now threatened.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left by Kristine Pamintuan, from her home on Japatul Valey Road.

September 5, 2020 (Alpine) – The #ValleyFire is burning westward at a critical rate of spread after starting near 4561 Spirit Trail in the Japatul Valley area of Alpine. The fast-moving brush fire has burned 300 to 400 acres and is threatening homes. Residents of Carveacre are under evacuation orders, the National Forest Service reports.

Multiple fire agencies have responded including air tankers and helicopters. SG&E's Sky Maverick is also doing water drops.

Firefighters are battling the blaze in 105 degree heat with winds 14-28 mph amid a red flag alert and gusty winds.

INMATE CHARGED IN MARCH MURDER OF SPRING VALLEY MAN

By Miriam Raftery
 
September 5, 2020 (Spring Valley) – Alex Anthony Martinez, 31, of Spring Valley has been charged with the murder of Manual Arrechea Chavira, 45, of Spring Valley. Chavira died on March 14 after suffering a head injury in a fight the evening before, according to Lieutenant Thomas Siever with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department. 

CAR AND BRUSH FIRE QUICKLY STAMPED OUT BY FIREFIGHTERS NEAR CAMPO

Story and photos by Jonathan Goetz

September 5, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- A car fire was reported at 10:55 a.m. this morning, Saturday Labor Day weekend 2020, between Pine Valley and Boulder Oaks (just west of the Campo turn-off from Interstate 8). Firefighters were on the scene when East County Wildfire and Emergency Alerts arrived an hour later. 

BODY FOUND NEAR LAKE MORENA CAMPGROUND MAY BE MISSING HIKER, 79

Story and photo by Miriam Raftery
 
September 3, 2020 (Lake Morena) – On September 1st, the San Diego Sheriff’s search and rescue team was activated to help locate a missing 79-year-old Asian man whose family had not heard from in the prior four days.  He had been staying at the campgrounds and was an avid hiker.
 
Yesterday, searchers found a dead body of a man approximately six miles from the campground, says Lieutenant Damon Blankenberger.

COUNTY HOSTS MEETING ON PROPOSED ALL-WHEEL PARK IN SPRING VALLEY SEPT. 10

By Miriam Raftery
 
September 1, 2020 (Spring Valley ) – The County will host an online public meeting on Thursday, September 10 from 6-7 p.m. on a proposed “Calavo Park” all-wheel park at 2920 Calavo Drive in Spring Valley.  
 
A county announcement of the event states, “We need your input to determine what features will help make this a best-in-class recreation destination. Join us for an online conversation with park staff, park designers and other influencers.”

SDG&E PLANNED OUTAGES IN TRIPLE-DIGIT HEAT AND STORMS MAY ENDANGER SAFETY OF RESIDENTS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: New power poles in Pine Valley are made of steel, not wood, for fire safety, as part of the upgrades that SDG&E has been installing across inland San Diego County.

Updated August 23, 2020 9:40 a.m. with responses from SDG&E.

August 22, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Amid a record-breaking heat wave with monsoonal thunderstorms, flash floods and lightning-sparked fires forecast as potential added hazards, SDG&E has announced plans to shut off power for hours during the heat of the day on Sunday and Monday across much of San Diego County.  

The outages are to upgrade wood poles to steel, among other equipment upgrades or maintenance planned.

The NWS has warned that the intense heat  this week can be life-threatening for those without air conditioning, yet the power outage will leave any residents who lack generators without access to safe, cool spaces amid the COVID-19 pandemic when many public, air-conditioned places are shut down.

Rural residents with electric well pumps will also be left without water for people or livestock to drink, as well as for fighting fires, as many rural residents equipped with tanks and hoses have done in past brush fires, unless they have invested in generators. Downed communications including internet and in some areas, phone service also leave residents unable to receive emergency alerts despite a high potential for emergencies during the extreme weather conditions.

FREE OR REDUCED-COST SCHOOL MEALS STILL AVAILABLE DESPITE PANDEMIC IN JAMUL-DUZURA AREA

East County News Service

August 22, 2020 (Jamul-Dulzura) – The Jamul-Dulzura Union School District began its fall semester August 17 with distance learning, for now, since California has not yet authorized in-classroom learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, nutritious free or low-cost breakfast and lunch are still available daily for children in households that qualify under federal standards.

In addition to households that meet income level requirements, the meals are also available for households receiving certain benefits such as CalFresh, CalWORKS WICS, or FDPIR, as well as for foster, homeless, and migrant children, among others.

WILD WEATHER CONTINUES: THUNDERSTORMS, FLASH FLOODS AND HIGH HEAT

By Miriam Raftery

August 22, 2020 (San Diego’s East County)  -- The monsoon season is here – with mountain thunderstorms expected each afternoon through Monday with brief heavy rain, small hail, lightning and strong erratic winds.  There is also a potential for flash flooding today and tomorrow across our inland region, as this map shows.

While thousands of lightning strikes across northern and central California have caused major wildfires,  Southern California has also had numerous lightning strikes, as the Earth Network image sent by the National Weather Service shows for Friday, Aug. 21:

TRENDING: OUTDOOR ROLLER-SKATING

Story by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson and Miriam Raftery 

Photo by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson:  Skaters stay cool with misters at the Viejas outdoor roller rink in Alpine

August 21, 2020 (Alpine) - Looking to change up your COVID-19 outdoor exercise routine? Consider visiting the outdoor roller-skating rink at Viejas Casino Outlets to burn off some of that quarantine-15 extra weight.  Or take a skate at the San Diego Derby United outdoor rink in Encanto to roll those pounds away—and have fun. 

FLASH FLOOD WARNING: DANGEROUS THUNDERSTORMS THIS AFTERNOON

August 21, 2020 (San Diego's East County) -- The National Weather Service has detected dangerous thunderstorms across portions of East County. A flash flood warning is in effect now through late this afternoon for areas in and around Pine Valley, Boulevard, Mount Laguna and Cuyamaca.

Move to high ground immediately if you are in these areas.

HEAT WAVE SMASHES RECORDS

By Miriam Raftery
 
August 20, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Triple digit temperatures are forecast yet again tomorrow across portions of San Diego’s inland region.  This week’s scorching heat wave has shattered some all-time records. On August 17, a temperature of 106 degrees Fahrenheit in Campo broke the old record of 103 set in 2001.  

LIONS, TIGERS AND BEARS IN ALPINE WORKS TO SAVE ANIMALS AT SUSPENDED ZOO FEATURED ON TIGER KING TV SHOW

By Miriam Raftery

August 19, 2020 (Alpine) – Bobbi Brink, owner of the Lions, Tigers and Bears animal sanctuary in Alpine, has offered to aid in the rescue and relocation of all animals at G.W. Zoo. The U.S. Department of Agriuclture has suspended the exhibitor license for the facility also known as the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park featured on the Netflix docu-series “Tiger King.”

The owner, Jeff Lowe, “just announced that he has actually relinquished his license and will no longer be exhibiting animals,” Brink says. Lowe will be banned from exhibiting big cats, bears, primates or other USDA-regulated species at any other property as well as at G.W. Zoo.

The USDA suspended the license after inspectors in June found injured and sickly animals with dangerous and dismal living conditions including:

COOL ZONES OPEN ACROSS EAST COUNTY DUE TO HIGH HEAT

East County News Service

August 17, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Cool zones adapted to COVID-19 public health protections have been opened at eight county libraries across San Diego’s inland region during the current extreme heat conditions.  The locations are open from 12 noon to 5 p.m.Mondays through Friday (except the Borrego Springs location, which is also open weekends). 

Masks and social distancing are required by all visitors and staff.  Temperature checks are also required before entering a cool zone and time limits may be imposed due to limited capacity. No animals are permitted, except for service animals. Below is the full list of county cool zones:

EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING

East County News Service

August 14, 2020 (San Diego's East County) -- The National Weather Service has issued an extreme heat warning in effect this weekend through Monday at 8 p.m. Dangerously hot conditions with temperatures from 98 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit are forecast across San Diego County’s mountains, valleys and desert areas as well as much of Riverside and San Bernadino counties.

Extreme heat will significantly increase the potential for heat related illnesses, particularly for those  working or participating in outdoor activities.

Follow these precautions:

ROLLING BLACKOUTS ACROSS COUNTY: BE PREPARED

 

East County News Service

August 14, 2020 (San Diego) -- The California Independent System Operator (ISO), which oversees the statewide electric grid, has directed SDG&E to initiate rotating, one-hour service interruptions (rotating outages) throughout its service territory in San Diego and southern Orange counties. The blackouts are underway and are currently affecting thousands of residences.  View a list of current outages and estimated restoration times at  https://www.sdge.com/residential/customer-service/outage-center/outage-map.

While the rotating outages will be widespread in the region, communities located in high fire threat districts, which experience public safety power shutoffs, will be exempt from the service interruptions, SDG&E announced today.



The local outages are the result of excessive heat driving up electricity use and putting strain on the grid. CASIO has declared a “Stage 3” power emergency because contingency reserves have fallen or are anticipated to fall below requirements and cannot be restored without service interruptions.

FIRE BREAKS OUT IN ALPINE

By Rebeca Jefferis Williamson

 

August 13, 2020 (Alpine) A vegetation fire broke out late afternoon today near I-8 and Victoria Drive in Alpine according to Cal Fire.

Multiple spots along the freeway were impacted. The fire was labelled the  #VictoriaFire.

According to Cal Fire, with an update, the fire has been stopped. Crews are mopping up the fires as of 6:00 p.m.

Traffic in the area has been heavily impacted.

REWARD OFFERED FOR INFO ON MURDER OF SECURITY GUARD JUNE 2 AT DISPENSARY IN SPRING VALLEY

East County News Service 

August 12, 2020 (Spring Valley) – A $3,000 reward is being offered by the family of Kenneth Love II for information that leads to the arrest of his killer. The family’s reward is in addition to a $1,000 reward offered by Crime Stoppers. 

BRUSH FIRE ON HIGHWAY 94 IN JAMUL NEAR HONEY SPRINGS RD.

UPDATE AS OF 7:12 P.M.:  The forward rate of spread for the Hillside Fire has been stopped.  EB 94 at Rancho Jamul Dr. lanes blocked

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

August 6, 2020 (Jamul) - Cal Fire San Diego is at the scene of a 2 acre vegetation fire in the area of Hwy 94 and Honey Springs Rd in Jamul.  Follow the #SpringsFire hashtag for more updates.  Highway 94 at Honey Springs Rd. lanes are blocked due to fire.  Please avoid area.

Cal Fire is also at the scene of a separate vegetation fire in the area of Hwy 94 and Hillside Dr in Jamul. Please avoid the area and follow the #HillsideFire hashtag for more updates.

Sign up for free East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts at the top right side of our homepage, and you can also receive our free weekly e-newsletter with top local news. You can also follow EastCountyAlert on Twitter for brief text alerts on your mobile phone.

SIX ARRESTED IN SWEEP OF ILLEGAL DISPENSARIES

East County News Service

July 29, 2020 (San Diego) – Yesterday morning, Tuesday, deputies and investigators from the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, assisted by San Diego and Chula Vista police officers, served search warrants at five illegal marijuana dispensaries in Spring Valley, Lakeside, and Chula Vista. Search warrants were also served at two related residences in Jamul and San Diego, as well as a storage facility in Spring Valley, says Sergeant Zheath Sanchez with the Sheriff’s Department.

Investigators seized more than 1.1 million dollars in cash, as well as more than 3,000 pounds of marijuana, marijuana edibles, concentrated cannabis, suspected Psilocybin mushrooms, and twenty firearms including three semi-automatic rifles.

SDG&E HOLDS DRIVE-THROUGH WILDFIRE SAFETY FAIRS

By Miriam Raftery

July 28, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – With fire season around the corner, SDG&E has announced a series of drive-through Wildfire Safety Fairs.  You can get a free emergency preparedness backpack and/or bucket, plus learn how to protect your family and property at upcoming drive-through wildfire safety fairs hosted by SDG&E.  The backpack includes a solar hand-crank radio, solar cell phone charger, 150 watt power inverter for plugging items into your car to charge, flashlight, 2.5 gallon water bag, first aid kit, toilet paper, face mask, insulated lunch box with reusable ice packs, glow stick and more.  

PARACHUTE FATALITY VICTIM IDENTIFIED

By Miriam Raftery
 
July 26, 2020 (Jamul) – Joseph James Wingen, 47, of San Diego has been identified as the man who died after skydiving in Jamul on July 19.
 
According to witnesses, Wingen’s parachute did deploy after he jumped out of the play and he appeared to be in full control of the equipment. However for unknown reasons, he drafted away from the landing zone and stopped steering his parachute.

PASSAGES: GREGORY DENNY, JAMUL GRANDFATHER AND LITTLE LEAGUE COACH, DIES OF COVID-19

By Miriam Raftery

 

July 26, 2020 (Jamul) – Jamul resident Gregory Denny, who worked at Taylor Guitars and was a former Little League coach, died July 24 in a hospital of COVID-19. His wife, Kim Kallege Denny, announced his passing on Facebook, calling him her soulmate and best friend, adding, “He is now my guardian angel.”

CASI CIELO FARM AND WINERY ADDS WALKING TOURS

By Miriam Raftery

 

July 25, 2020 (Jamul) - Casi Cielo Farm and Winery in Jamul now offers free, self-guided vineyard and garden walking tours to wine-tasting guests.  

 

Owners Greg and PJ Maness have nick-named the elevated vegetable, flower and herb garden “Little Eden.”  From heirloom tomatoes to towering giant sunflowers to farm animals, the farm is a haven situated in Jamul just south of Rancho San Diego.

100 YEARS STRONG, ARTIST PHEBE BURNHAM’S WORKS TO BE DISPLAYED AT SOPHIE’S GALLERY



By Miriam Raftery

July 24, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – On July 26, Descanso artist Phebe Burnham will celebrate her 100th birthday.  A restrospective display of her vibrant oil paintings, pastels and mixed-media creations can be viewed at Sophie’s Gallery in El Cajon from now through September 9th.  Several can been seen online and many more can be viewed in-person at the gallery at 140 East Main Street in El Cajon.

Born at the dawn of the Roaring ‘20s in the U.S. and the Mexican Revolution in Mexico, Burnham has painted scenes and people in both Mexico and the U.S., including her rural Descanso community. 

 

CAMPO FAMILY SUFFERS DEADLY CRASH: FUNDRAISER STARTED TO HELP SURVIVORS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via GoFundMe

July 21, 2020 (Campo) – Brad and Crystal Sparks’ family from Campo suffered a devastating rollover accident in New Mexico on July 12 while traveling home after a visit to friends in Texas. Two of their children were killed and five other family members had injuries. Brad works for Symons Fire Protection in Poway.

A GoFundMe Page has thus far raised over $187,000 to help Brad and Crystal Sparks, their surviving children and an unborn baby.

MOTORCYCLE PASSENGER DIES AFTER ROLLOVER IN EL CAJON

East County News Service

July 20, 2020 (El Cajon) – A passenger on a Harley Davidson motorcycle has died following a rollover crash July 18 on Piping Rock Lane around 9:30 p.m. While passing a vehicle parked on the shoulder, the driver of the motorcycle lost control, causing it to roll over and crash into the parked vehicle.

Both the driver and passenger were ejected onto the roadway. They were not wearing helmets and both suffered major injuries. Both were transported to hospitals, but despite lifesaving efforts, the passenger was pronounced dead at Sharp Memorial Hospital.

LA MESA MAN, 20, KILLED IN DULZURA HEAD-ON COLLISION

By Miriam Raftery

July 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – The driver killed in a head-on collision in Dulzura on June 27 has been identified as 20-year-old Joshua Ruben Valtierra of La Mesa. He was driving south on State Route 94, also known as Campo Road, east of Little Tecate Road in Dulzura when an oncoming vehicle veered over the center line and struck Valtierra’s vehicle head-on.

Valtierra’s vehicle overturned and plunged down an embankment. Paramedics responded to a 9-1-1 call. Valtierra’s death of blunt force injuries sustained in the crash was confirmed at the scene, the Medical Examiner reports.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating the collision.

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