Gate Fire



By Miriam Raftery

May 24, 2017 (Dulzura) – Back on in early April, Supervisor Dianne Jacob wrote to three officials at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management urging them to close down public shooting in and around Donohoe mountain in Dulzura.  Her requests were ignored, and last weekend, the Gate Fire that starting by a shooting range in the area charred over 2,000 acres, caused evacuations of residents and an exhaustive response by fire officials and first responders to keep the public safe. 

Now, Jacob has fired off a new letter – this one to Ryan Zinke, the new Secretary of the Interior, which oversees the BLM.


By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Cynthia Wharton, taken yesterday from Otay Lakes Road just before it was shut down.

May 21, 2017 – A criminal arson investigation has been launched into the cause of the Gate Fire, which has charred 2,056 acres and is now 70% contained.

Captain Isaac Sanchez with Cal Fire told ECM news partner 10 News that a video shot by a target shooter and posted on social media shows a group of people starting the fire. The video may be this one posted by a user named Vandalsworld on Instagram:   The poster claims the people started the fire, but it is unclear whether the fire was started by shooting or some other way. After the fire started, the people could be seen walking away from the scene.

Earlier, some neighbors had blamed the fire on shooters at a target range near where the fire began, in an area where shooting is believed to have started several prior brush fires. But now a shooter may have captured evidence to catch possible arsonists or careless individuals whose actions ignited the Gate Fire.

Firefighters continue to make progress towards full containment, Cal Fire reports.  State Route 94 has been reopened, as well as Otay Lakes Road.  Please drive with caution, however, in this area.



Update May 21, 2017, 8 a.m.  -- The Gate fire nearly doubled overnight to 1,500 acres,  but firefighters made good progress overnight and the wildfire is now 30% contained. Road closures remain in effect.

Update 9 p.m. - An overnight shelter is opened at Otay Ranch High School,  250 Olympic Parkway in Chula Vista for those who have evacuated.  Pet supplies and RV parking are available.

East County New Service

Photo by Cyndy Hoffman, taken from her home, looking toward Otay

May 20, 2017 (Dulzura) -- The fast-moving Gate Fire has charred 800 acres and is 10% contained.

Tonight at 6:30 p.m., the following emergency message was sent to 77 contacts by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department:  “There is a fire in the area of Dulzura. The wind is blowing to the East and there is a concern that the fire may spread to your area.  You are being advised to be ready to evacuate if notified to do so.  You may evacuate now if you choose to do so.  The evacuation route is Highway 94 East to Buckman Springs North to Interstate 8 West.  Take interstate 8 West to East Willows Road.  Exit East Willows Road and turn right(north).  Continue West on East Willows Road to the Viejas Casino.  The Red Cross will have a temporary evacuation center located in the casino parking lot. This a fire warning only, not an evacuation order"

If you have an emergency call 9-1-1.  Monitor local television and radio stations, or call the San Diego County Information line by calling 2-1-1 for updated information. For animal emergencies related to this fire please contact Animal Services Dispatch (619) 767-2675.



Update 5:55 p.m.:  The Gate Fire is 800 acres and is now 10% contained.  Road closures remain in effect on Highway 94 from Honey Springs Rd. to State Route 188, and on Otay Lakes Road.

Update 4:50 p.m.:   Fire is now 500 acres and still only 5% contained. A Chula Vista policeman directing traffic was struck by a vehicle and has been taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Update 3:20 p.m. :  The Gate Fire is now 425 acres and 5% contained, per Cal Fire. 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo left, by Dan Cassidy

May 20, 2017 (Jamul/Otay) – The Gate Fire has scorched 300 to 400 acres,  according to Cal-Fire.  Thus far no structures have been damaged.  The fire is burning  near Highway 94 and Otay Lakes Road, toward the Rancho Jamul Reserve with winds at 10-15 miles per hour.  The fire is zero percent contained and still spreading rapidly.