Communities

CAMPO MAN DIES AFTER CRASH NEAR LAKE MORENA

East County News Service
 
Image cc via Bing
 
December 16, 2020 (Campo) – Barney Stence, 60, of Campo, died December 14 in Sharp hospital of injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident on December 9.
 
Stence was involved in a single-vehicle rollover crash at 1880 Lake Morena Drive in Campo, after losing control of his vehicle for unknown reasons. He was transported to the hospital with serious injuries, but his condition continued to decline until his death was pronounced on Monday, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner.
 

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EVACUATION WARNNG ISSUED IN SANTEE DUE TO CHAPARRAL FIRE

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

Photo, left, by Felicia Vlahos

Update 8 p.m.:  The fire scorched 36 acres. All evacuation orders have been lifted.  An investigation continues into the cause of this fire.

December 16, 2020 (Santee) -- The San Diego County Sheriff's Department has issued an emergency evacuation warning to residents in the 10,000 block of Chaparral Dr. in Santee due to the Chaparral Fire. An evacuation warning means that evacuations are currently voluntary, however, everyone should be prepared to evacuate if an evacuation order is issued. Residents who choose to evacuate can go to Santana High School, located at 9915 N Magnolia Ave, Santee, CA 92071.

The Sheriff advises, "If you feel unsafe, evacuate early."If you need emergency assistance with evacuation, call 9-1-1.


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WARNER SPRINGS MAN DIES AFTER HITTING TREE ON HIGHWAY 79

East County News Service
 
December 16, 2020 (Warner Springs) – Ronald Louis Swaim, 87, of Warner Springs, veered off the roadway and struck a tree on State Route 79 in Santa Ysabel, just north of State Route 76, on December 2.
 
Witnesses called 9-1-1 and awaited the arrival of law enforcement and fire  personnel, the County Medical Examiner reports. Paramedics arrived and pronounced the victim dead at the scene of multiple blunt force injuries. 

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ELDERLY COUPLE FOUND DEAD OF GUNSHOTS IN MT. HELIX HOME

Update December 16, 2020:  The County Medical Examiner has identified the deceased as Judith Ann Caruthers, 72, and ehr husband, Herman Caruthers, 74.  Their deaths have been found to be murder-suicide; Herman Caruthers killed his wife and then himself, each with a gunshot to the head.

By Miriam Raftery

December 15, 2020 (Mt. Helix) – An elderly man and woman were found dead in their home yesterday in the 4900 block of Resmar Road on Mt Helix in unincorporated La Mesa. Both had suffered gunshot wounds.

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NEWLY RE-ELECTED LEMON GROVE MAYOR RACQUEL VASQUEZ DELIVERS COVID19-DELAYED STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photo of Mayor Racquel Vasquez courtesy of the City of Lemon Grove)

Dec. 15, 2020 (Lemon Grove) --“This year we lived our daily lives a little differently,” Lemon Grove Mayor Racquel Vasquez said during her 2020 State of the City address, which was originally slated for August but delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was recorded November 30th and posted on YouTube since bans on gatherings prohibit a live address.

“Every day I witness the kindness of our community members in wearing face mask coverings and performing well-being checks for our family, friends, and neighbors," Vasquez  said of the community’s response to the pandemic.


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SANTEE RECOUNT ENDS, HURST CONCEDES TO TROTTER

By Miriam Raftery; Michael Allen also contributed to this story

Photos by Erik Herrara

December 15, 2020 (Santee) – Yesterday’s recount in the Santee District 4 City Council race took place at the Registrar of Voters.  Each candidate picked up one additional vote from ballots that were not previously opened or counted, but it didn’t change the outcome. Dustin Trotter officially has 3,920 votes – a mere five vote margin over Samm Hurst, with 3,915.

The San Diego County Democratic Party agreed to terminate the recount after only minimal changes in the vote count once untallied ballots were examined. 

According to Assistant Registrar of Voters Cynthia Paes, a little over 1,000 ballots were recounted, out of around 8,000 cast in district 4.  The full-day recount involved about 25 staffers. Both sides challenged ballots; out of nine that were uncounted and unopened, and after adjudication by Registrar Michael Vu, three were opened and counted.  Besides one vote found for each candidate, a third untallied ballot was opened and found to have neither candidate marked in the Santee Council race.


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SANTEE WOMAN ARRESTED FOR DRIVING UNDER INFLUENCE OF DRUGS AND ALCOHOL AFTER CRASH KILLS MOTORCYCLIST IN EL CAJON

Update: The victim has been identified by the County Medical Examiner as Ivan Joseph Kreft, 32, of El Cajon.
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: Creative Commons image, CC by NC-ND 
 
December 14, 2020 (El Cajon) – Pamela Gilmore, 59, of Santee has been arrested and charged with gross vehicular manslaughter and felony driving under the influence (DUI) following a fatal collision this morning in El Cajon.
 
According to Officer Travis Garrow with the California Highway Patrol, Gilmore was driving her 2011 Kia Sportage northbound on Plumeria Drive to westbound Pepper drive this morning at 7:05 a.m. when a 32-year-old El Cajon man riding his 2005 Suzuki GSXR 100 motorcycle eastbound on Pepper Drive approached Plumeria. 
 

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SHERIFF SEEKS WITNESSES TO DEADLY SHOOTING IN SPRING VALLEY PARKING LOT

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: Creative Commons via Bing
 
December 14, 2020 (Spring Valley) – Last night just after 8:20 p.m., Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a shooting in a parking lot at 8600 Jamacha Rd., Spring Valley.  Deputies found 39-years-old Carlos Enrique Callejas, of Chula Vista, who had been shot.
 
Deputies attempted lifesaving measures and were relieved by San Miguel Fire Department paramedics, but they were unable to revive the victim, who was pronounced dead at the scene, says Lt. Thomas Seiver with the San Diego County Sheriff’s department.
 
The Sheriff's Homicide Unit responded and has assumed responsibility of the investigation. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Homicide Unit at (858) 285- 6330/after hours at (858) 565-5200. You can remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

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JULIAN FAMILY LOSES HOME TO FIRE: UNINSURED LOSSES INCLUDE TOYS, CHILDREN’S LAPTOPS NEEDED FOR SCHOOL

By Miriam Raftery

 

December 14, 2020 (Julian) – A GoFundMe page has been set up by Julian community members to help the Lares family members, who lost everything in a fire at their home yesterday. 

 

“Perla Lares, a Senior at Julian High School served as Teen Miss Julian Princess in 2018 and 2019, dedicating many hours to community service for Julian and San Diego County.  Her brother, Gabe, is a Freshman at Julian High School,” says Jill Fleming, who started the fundraising page.


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EL CAJON POLICE OFFICER DRAGGED, STRUCK BY VEHICLE AND SERIOUSLY INJURED: SUSPECTS REMAIN AT LARGE

Update Jan. 11: El Cajon police announced the arrest of suspect David Francis Cepeda Pangilinan by the Los Angeles Rampart Narcotics Detail.
 
Update Dec. 18:  The officer has been released from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.
 
Update Dec. 14, 2020 10 p.m.:  The investigation by El Cajon Police has identified a suspect who is being sought for questioning:  David Francis Cepeda Pangilinan, from Guam is 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs 200 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. 

 
By Miriam Raftery
 
December 14, 2020 (El Cajon) – An El Cajon Police officer is hospitalized in a trauma center in critical but stable condition due to serious injuries sustained at 8:30 a.m. during a traffic stop of a rented black Volkswagen SUV, CA license plate 8LC117.

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SUPERVISORS DELAY DECISION ON RENEWABLE ENERGY OVERLAY OPTIONS UNTIL JAN. 27

East County News Service

 

December 13, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – San Diego County Supervisors have voted to delay until January 27, 2021 a decision on Renewable Energy Overlay Options originally slated for Dec. 9, 2020.  The options aim to streamline approval of industrial-scale wind and solar projects across much of East County’s rural, mountain and desert areas.


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LEMON GROVE RESIDENT WINS 10TH ANNUAL HOEHN MOTORS LUXURY CAR RAFFLE TO BENEFIT RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE

East County News Service

Photo courtesy of Hoehn Motors: Winner Thomas A. Schaefer had a choice of these vehicles

December 12, 2020 (Lemon Grove) --  Raising $320,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities® of San Diego to support families with a child in a medical crisis, the 10th Annual Hoehn Motors Luxury Car Raffle concluded last week, naming Thomas A. Schaefer of Lemon Grove, the grand prize winner. 


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POLICE SEEK WITNESSES TO FATAL SHOOTING AT LAKE MURRAY VILLAGE SHOPPING CENTER

By Miriam Raftery
 
December 12, 2020 (La Mesa) – A 29-year-old man was found dead of gunshot wounds in the parking lot of the Marketplace at Lake Murray Village, 5600 Lake Murray Blvd. in La Mesa last night.  Police seek witnesses as well as a dark sedan, possibly a two-door, seen leaving the scene at a high rate of speed.

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FORMER LA MESA MERCHANT ARRESTED FOR VIOLATING RESTRAINING ORDER

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: Peter Carzis, right, was earlier charged with battery among other charges, after allegedly attacking journalists outside of his La Mesa store.
 
December 11, 2020 (La Mesa) – Peter Carzis was arrested Tuesday and charged with violating a domestic restraining order, after authorities were called to an apartment in the 8200 block  Lemon Avenue in Lemon Grove, 10 News reports. Carzis had been ordered to stay at least 100 feet away from the protected party’s address, but was arrested sitting outside.
 
Carzis, the former owner of Peter’s Men’s Apparel in La Mesa, was previously arrested in January and charged with committing a lewd act in public, misdemeanor battery and felony vandalism.  He pleaded not guilty and was ordered to undergo a medical examination at that time.
 

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HUNDREDS OF SAN DIEGO FAMILIES TO RECEIVE MUCH NEEDED GROCERIES AT ROCK CHURCH EL CAJON AND CITY HEIGHTS FOOD DISTRIBUTION

Partnering with local businesses to connect resources with those in need

East County News Service

December 10, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- On Thursday, December 10 the Rock Church City Heights campus will also host a food distribution and on Tuesday, December 15th, the Rock Church East County campus will also host their food distribution. All events are free and open to the community.


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JAMUL INDIAN VILLAGE OF CALIFORNIA'S CHAIRWOMAN, ERICA M. PINTO, ELECTED CHAIR OF SOUTHERN INDIAN HEALTH COUNCIL, INC.

Chairwoman expands efforts to improve lives of Native peoples

East County News Service

December 10, 2020 (Jamul) - On Monday, November 30, Erica M. Pinto, Chairwoman of The Jamul Indian Village of California (JIV), was elected Chair of the Southern Indian Health Council, Inc. (SIHC).  The SIHC, founded in 1982, is a Native American organization which aims to protect and improve the physical, mental, and spiritual health of the Native American community.  Having intermittently served on the 14-member SIHC board since 2004, Ms. Pinto will begin her two-year term as Chair in January 2021.  The Chairwoman, who was honored last month with the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of California’s highest honor, the Warrior Award, has become a recognized leader in the effort to improve the lives of Native peoples.


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LMPD FIRED MATT DAGES, OFFICER IN AMAURIE JOHNSON INCIDENT, ON AUG. 7, CITY REVEALS AFTER APPEALS BOARD UPHOLDS ACTION

By Miriam Raftery

December 10, 2020 (La Mesa) – The city of La Mesa today revealed that before retiring, Police Chief Walt Vasquez terminated the employment of Officer Matt Dages. Dages was fired due to his actions during the controversial stop of Amaurie Johnson at a trolley station on May 27. Three days later, on May 30, a protest against La Mesa Police erupted into a night of looting, rioting and the burning down of three buildings.

Dages had accused Johnson, 23, of assault but the charge was dropped after body camera footage failed to substantiate Officer  Dages' version of the incident.  A video that went viral on social media prompted accusations of racial profiling by Dages.


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WARNER SPRINGS SCHOOL BOARD RACE ENDS IN TIE, CAPPING OFF A WILD WEEK

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo via CC by NC-ND:  a coin toss or other game of chance will determine the outcome in this race
 
Update December 16, 2020:  Gene Doxey won the coin toss -- and the seat on the Warner Sprngs Unified School District board.
 
December 9, 2020 (Warner Springs) – It’s been a wild week in Warner Springs.  First, an earthquake centered near the tiny mountain town jolted residents awake on Sunday morning. Then high winds prompted SDG&E to shut off power in the area for multiple days, forcing closure of schools in the Warner Springs Unified School District.
 
Now, an election for one of three seats on the school board has ended in a draw. Gene Doxey and Terry Cox each got 352 votes, tying for third place. There’s an important lesson to be learned for parents and students:  every vote counts!

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TIME RUNNING OUT FOR VALLEY FIRE SURVIVORS TO APPLY FOR FEMA ASSISTANCE

By Donnie Ryan, County of San Diego Communications Office

Photo: Valley Fire, by Ron Kasper Dronesystems

December 9, 2020 (San Diego's East County) -There is only one week left for San Diego County homeowners and renters affected by the Valley Fire in September to apply for a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant, as the assistance program is scheduled to end Dec. 15.

The FEMA grant program is designed to help with serious disaster-related expenses not covered by insurance such as rent, home repair or replacement, medical or dental costs, transportation or other personal property losses.


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REVIEW: THE ABSOLUTE BRIGHTNESS OF LEONARD PELKY - LET YOUR BEST SELF SHINE

By Kathy Carpenter

December 8, 2020 (La Mesa) - Dateline with a touch of Glee sprinkled in best describes this virtual performance by Lamplighters Theatre in La Mesa. Director O.P. Hadlock's The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey shines a light on two things: first, the brilliant acting of James Steinberg, portraying eight characters in this one man show. It takes a great talent to pull shows like this off and have viewers leave feeling as if a whole group of people were witnessed.


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SANTEE COUNCIL DISTRICT 4 GOES TO RECOUNT, ALSO SEEKS EXAMINATION OF UNCOUNTED BALLOTS

By Mike Allen

Photos: Samm Hurst and Dustin Trotter

December 8, 2020 (Santee) -- With only five votes separating winner Dustin Trotter and Samm Hurst in Santee’s City Council District 4 race, a recount of the nearly 8,000 votes cast has been requested.

The San Diego Democratic Party has requested the recount in a letter sent to Registrar of Voters Michael Vu yesterday, one day before the deadline. Hurst, a UCSD professor, is a registered Democrat.

Will Rodriguez Kennedy, party chair, signed the letter which states that given the closeness of the vote, “I believe a thorough recount could affect the outcome.”

He said the process should involve not only the nearly 8,000 ballots cast, but the ballots that were not counted, including unopened and rejected mail-in ballots, as well as provisional ballots.


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FUND STARTED TO HELP RANCHO SAN DIEGO COUPLE THAT LOST HOME IN WILLOW FIRE

By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Henri Migala

December 8, 2020 (Rancho San Diego) – GoFundMe has notified East County Magazine that a fundraising page has been set up to assist Doug and Michele Howarth, retired local educators whose home was destroyed in the Willow Fire on December 2.

The GoFundMe page for the Howarths states, “The Howarth’s lost everything in the Willow fires last night as they watched their home go up in flames. Doug barely got out in his PJs as his wife, Michele, watched on TV in Carlsbad while she was visiting her daughter Gwendolyn P.”  The fundraising page was set up by Josie Kasyouhannon on behalf of Gwendolyn Pavlick.

”Please help this kind and generous couple who have resided in our community for decades. Michele Howarth was a first grade teacher at Vista Grande Elementary School and is now retired. Doug Howarth worked as a guidance counselor at Cuyamaca Community College,” the site states.”Please help donate to help rebuild their lives. Every donation helps.” To date, around $12,000 has been donated.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

POWER OUT FOR OVER 15,000 SDG&E CUSTOMERS AMID HIGH WINDS, RED FLAG WARNING: RESOURCE CENTERS NOW OPEN

Fire burning in Mexico near Tecate is visible across East County

By Miriam Raftery

December 8, 2020 (San Diego’s East County)—With wind speeds up to 65 miles per  hour reported last night, SDG&E has shut off power to 15,441 customers in rural, high desert and mountain areas as of 9 a.m. today, with shut-offs possible for another 45,042 customers. Expected restoration time is 6 p.m. tomorrow night in most areas without power, according to SDG&E’s outage map.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning extended through Wednesday night, due to high fire danger from gusty Santa Ana winds and low humidity. A high wind warning is also in effect locally.

The Alpine Union, Valley Center-Pauma Unified and Warner Unfied school districts have cancelled classes today due power shutoffs and high winds.

A brush fire burning in Mexico near Tecate cast a red glow overnight visible across much of East County. Cal Fire reports the fire is well within Mexico and is not considered a threat to the U.S. at this time. (Photo, right, viewed from Campo, by Don Lumb)

SDG&E has set up community resource centers from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. today in Descanso (9545 River Drive), Julian (17606 Harrison Park Rd), Potrero (24550 Highway 94), Ramona (1275 Main St.), Valley Center (29200 Cole Grade Rd.), and Warner Springs (30950 Highway 79.)


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DECEASED CANDIDATE WINS RAMONA WATER DISTRICT ELECTION: BOARD TO DISCUSS HOW TO FILL VACANCY AT DEC. 8 MEETING

 

Update November 9, 2020:  The Ramona Water District Board voted last night to fill this vacancy by appointment.  Click here to learn more.

By Miriam Raftery

December 7, 2020 (Ramona) – Thomas Ace, 73, an incumbent on the Ramona Municipal Water District Board and former Lakeside Fire Protection District Chief, died October 24.  He still received the most votes in the November election for the water district’s Division 3 seat, with 1,766 votes to defeat Rex Schildhouse, who got 1,654 votes – a margin of just 112 votes, according to the election results certified Dec. 3 by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters.

The water district’s board of directors has the option to fill the vacancy by appointment, or call a special election. Options will be discussed at the next board meeting Dec.8 at 2 p.m., which will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the board agenda indicates.


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TEEN SHOT IN UNINCORPORATED EL CAJON

East County News Service
 
Photo: Creative Commons BY-NC-ND
 
December 5, 2020 (El Cajon) -- Deputies from the Lakeside Sheriff's Substation responded to a call of a shooting last night at 7:30 p.m. in the 1600 block of N. 2nd Street, in unincorporated El Cajon. 
 
“A 16 year-old victim was located by officers from El Cajon Police Department several blocks away on 2nd Street in the city of El Cajon,” says Sgt. Phillip Beaumont with the Sheriff’s department.  “The victim suffered from several apparent gunshot wounds and was transported to the hospital by paramedics. The victim was last known to be in critical condition.”

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SANTEE FATHER ARRESTED FOR SUSPECTED MURDER OF INFANT

East County News Service
 
December 5, 2020 (Santee) – A Santee man was arrested Thursday for child abuse and murder of his infant son last April.  Daniel Charles Marshall, 35, was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force in San Diego, says Lt. Thomas Seiver.
 
The Santee Fire Department responded to a report of the 7-month-old infant in medical distress on April 22 in the 8600 block of Paseo Del Rey in Santee. Deputies responded to assist and the Child Abuse Unit responded. 

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FAA REVERSES APPROVAL OF CAMPO WIND PROJECT

By Miriam Raftery

December 5, 2020 (Campo) – The Federal Aviation Administration has reversed its earlier approval of the controversial Campo Wind project and related Boulder Brush Facilities.The project would erect 60 wind turbines, each 586 feet tall, on tribal land close to tribal and non-tribal homes in rural East County. (image, left)

In its remand letter dated Dec. 2, the FAA admitted to errors in its aeronautical study proceess.

The action comes in response to a petition for review raised by the nonprofit Backcountry Against Dumps along with Boulevard residents Ed and Donna Tisdale, whose property shares a half-mile border with the project site on the Campo Indian reservation.


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PHOTO OF THE WEEK: HAPPY BIRTHDAY SANTEE

East County News Service

December 4, 2020 (Santee) – Rebecca Jefferis Williamson snapped this photo of a keepsake Christmas ornament commemorating Santee’s 40th birthday on December 1st.  The city hosted dual fireworks displays, as well as treats passed out through local merchants.

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted a broader celebration originally planned.


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SDG&E RESTORES POWER TO OVER HALF OF CUSTOMERS, BUT MANY RESIDENTS VOICE ANGER OVER SHUT-OFFS DURING COLD WEATHER

By Miriam Raftery
 
December 4, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – As of Friday morning, 32,797 customers of San Diego Gas & Electric remain without power, two days after the utility shut off electricity to more than 73,000 customers. SDG&E implemented the widespread planned outages to prevent power lines from sparking fires amid a red flag warning due to dry conditions and gusty Santa Ana winds.

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A LONG NIGHT FOR FIREFIGHTERS BATTLING WILLOW FIRE

 

 

By Henri Migala and Miriam Raftery

Photos and videos by Henri Migala

December 3, 2020 (Rancho San Diego) – Thanks to the valiant response of firefighters from multiple districts across the region, the #WillowFire in Rancho San Diego was held to 30 acres overnight.  One home was destroyed and six others damaged, according to Cal Fire. 

But the damage could have been far worse, given that the fire started after dark amid howling Santa Ana wind conditions. (Video of high winds)

The fire started around 10:30 p.m. on Willow Glen Drive near Hillsdale Rd., swiftly racing through a canyon. Flames soon engulfed a home atop the ridge and scorched others, prompting late-night evacuations and a long night for both firefighters and residents.


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