Wildfire News

CALIFORNIA'S NEW WILDFIRE PLAN: FIVE THINGS TO KNOW

Is this a utilities bailout? Will it help prevent future fires? How will all this work? Here's a breakdown of the new plan California lawmakers are putting in place.

By Julie Cart, CALmatters

CALmatters is an independent public interest journalism venture covering California state politics and government.

Photo:  The deadly 2018 Camp Fire burns around PG&E transmission towers east of Pulga, near the source of the first report of the fire. (Photo by Karl Mondon, Bay Area News Group)

July 14, 2019 (San Diego) -  You will be forgiven for having the impression that California lawmakers have been talking about comprehensive wildfire legislation forever, when it has only been days since the new fire bill ricocheted  from the Assembly to the Senate and back again. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed it today, less than a week after the first elected official cleared his throat to introduce the package.

BORDER FIRE SOUTH OF DULZURA NOW 85% CONTAINED AT 100 ACRES: FIREFIGHTERS AIDED BY NEW INFRARED TECHNOLOGY

Update July 15, 2019:  The Border Fire has been 100% contained after burning 100 acres on the U.S. side of the border, Cal Fire reports.
 
East County Wildfire & Emergency Alert Service
 
July 13, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – The #BorderFire which charred over 650 acres in Mexico before jumping the international border yesterday in San Diego’s East County is now 85 percent contained, after burning 100 acres in the U.S.

KUMEYAAY LAND TRUST FILES NOTICE TO EVICT COUNTY FIRE AUTHORITY FROM JULIAN FIRE STATION

New Julian fire station No. 56 sits on disputed land

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

 

July 13, 2019 (Julian) – Following a firestorm of controversy over San Diego County’s takeover of the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District, the County may lose access to a new fire station. Theodore J. Griswold, attorney for the Kumeyaay Native American Land Conservancy, has filed an eviction notice with the San Diego County Fire Authority (SDCFA) that would force the SDCFA to abandon Julian Fire Station No. 56 within two weeks.

 

The future of Station No. 56,  located at 3407 State Route 79 just south of downtown Julian, has been a dicey subject from the onset of the county’s efforts to shut down of the Julian Cuyamaca Fire protection District (JCFPD), the county’s last volunteer fire department. Though the transfer of authority was approved by a majority of voters and the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), many area residents have fought strenuously to reverse the action, with litigation pending. 

BRUSH FIRE IN MEXICO JUMPS BORDER SOUTH OF DULZURA

UPDATE AS OF 7:22 PM:  Fire is now 100 acres on the U.S. side, 650 acres total with 10% containment. The combination of ground and air resources has allowed for significant progress, and containment is likely to increase overnight.

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alert Service

July 12, 2019 (Dulzura) – A brush fire that has charred over 100 acres in Mexico has crossed the international border and near Cottonwood Creek and Barrett Truck Trail south of Dulzura.  The blaze has charred around 10 acres on the U.S. side of thee border in rural San Diego County, according to Cal Fire.

Patch.com reports 60 firefighters on scene including two air tankers, two helicopters, six engines, two dozers, two hand crews and a water tender.

RESIDENTS INVITED TO “ROLL-IN” ENGINES ON TWO YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF SAN MIGUEL UNDER LOCAL CONTROL

By Criss Brainard, Fire Chief

July 10, 2019 (Spring Valley) - The San Miguel Consolidated Fire Protection District invites residents to attend a ceremonial “roll-in” to start the service life of two new fire engines. The ceremony will take place at San Miguel Station 16 on Friday, July 12, 2019 at 9:00 am.

STRONG QUAKE PROMPTS EARTHQUAKE PREPAREDNESS REMINDERS

 

If you felt some shaking on the Fourth of July, and even if you didn’t personally sense it, you have likely heard it was from a 6.4 magnitude earthquake in the Mojave Desert near the town of Ridgecrest. The quake is being called one of the biggest in Southern California in 20 years, could be felt in various counties as far as San Diego County and Nevada, and is continuing to put out aftershocks.

7.1 QUAKE TONIGHT NORTHEAST OF RIDGECREST JOLTS SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA., SPARKS BRUSH FIRES

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alert Services

July 5, 2019 (Ridgecrest) -- A powerful 7.1 earthquake has struck 11 miles northeast of Ridgecrest tonight at 8:19 p.m., the same area rocked by a 6.4 earthquake yeserday morning. KCFD reports over a dozen small outdoor fires with larger vegetation fires burning north and east of the city. Kern County spokesperson Megan Person confirmed to CNN that fires and multiple injuries have occured. Structure damage is also reported.

Seismologist Lucy Jones tweeted, "There is a 1 in 20 chance of Friday night's magnitude 7.1 earthquake "being followed by somethign even bigger." Earthquake of magnitude 5 are likely and a magnitude 6 is quite possible, she said. 

An 8.5 quake in Chile was once a precursor to a 9.2, a seismic expert in a live press conference held by the Kern County Fire Department stated.

The U.S. Geological Survey originally reported the quake at 7.1, downgraded it to 6.9 and then upgraded it back to 7.1. That's 11 times stronger than the earlier 6.4 quake since the Richter scale is logorhythmic.

Southern California Edison reports some 26,000 customers are without power due to the quake.

Los Angeles Fire Dept. reports downed powerlines in L.A. 

View video of the KTLA newscasters ducking for cover when the quake hit:  https://twitter.com/i/status/1147353969674448896.

In San Bernadino County, the county fire department reports som homes have shifted off their foundations, according to KTLA.

Highway 178 is closed due to a rockslide in Kern County.

JACOB ASKS INSURANCE COMMISSIONER TO STOP INSURERS FROM DENYING COVERAGE TO LOCAL HOMEOWNERS DUE TO WILDFIRE RISKS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: West Fire in Alpine, 2018

July 1, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – Across California, some insurance companies have stopped writing policies for homes in areas at high risk for wildfires, even dropping policies for some long-standing customers, Voice of San Diego reported in mid-June. 

Now, Supervisor Dianne Jacob has written a letter on June 27 to California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara urging him to take immediate action to “address the heavy-handed, blanket approach that insurance companies are currently utilizing to deny insurance though those who live in areas where wildfires may occur.” She also called on Lara to hold a public hearing in San Diego County on the issue, to allow residents to speak out and share concerns.

COUNTY APPROVES CONTROVERSIAL MASTER-PLANNED COMMUNITY IN OTAY RANCH

Ths project site burned in the 2007 Harris wildfire. State Route 94 through Jamul, the main access route, is rated by Cal Fire in the most dangerous 1%  of areas in the state for evacuation during a major fire.
 
By Kendra Sitton
 
June 27, 2019 (Jamul) – San Diego County Supervisors have voted 3-2 to approve a Master Planned Community outside of Otay along Proctor Valley within the Jamul area, known as Village 14 and Planning Areas 16/19. Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who represents Jamul, voted against the plan alongside the only Democrat on the board, Nathan Fletcher during the Wednesday, June 26 meeting.

BRUSH FIRE IN BOULEVARD COULD REACH 20 ACRES

Update 9:56 a.m.:  The strucure fire has been extinguished and the brush fire has been halted, Cal Fire reports.  Firefighters will remain on scene for mop-up activities.

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alert Service

June 27, 2019 (Boulevard) -- Cal Fire is at the scene of a fully-involved outbuilding fire in the 41000 block of Old Highway 80 in Boulevard that has spread into the vegetation. Though currently only a 20 by 20 foot spot fire, the #McCainFire has the potential to reach 20 acres, Cal Fire San Diego tweeted shortly after 9 a.m.

COUNTY BRACING FOR TOUGH FIRE SEASON, ANNOUNCES COORDINATED EFFORT TO MEET CHALLENGES

Firebreaks planned to protect Crest and Guatay

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

June 6, 2019 (San Diego) -- Not wanting a repeat of devastation suffered in the deadly 2003 and 2007 firestorms in San Diego County, Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Dianne Jacob announced on Tuesday a highly coordinated fire prevention effort in anticipation of a tough fire season.

While recent heavy rains have been good for replenishing water supplies, Jacob stated at a press conference, “From a fire standpoint, what has happened, our backcountry brush is thicker than ever. That means there is more fuel to feed a fire when it hits. And it will."

Jacob, whose District 2 includes fire-prone East County, added, "Since the series of deadly firestorms in 2003 and 2007, the county has worked side-by-side with CAL FIRE and spent more than half-a-billion dollars on firefighting improvements.” This has included “new stations, aircraft, and the establishment of a bigger and better firefighting force."

Audio: 

Audio: Press conference on San Diego County fire plans for 2019

HUNTER VOTES AGAINST WILDFIRE RELIEF BILL FOR CALIFORNIA VICTIMS

"I find it disgusting that Hunter would vote against the disaster relief bill to bring relief to those families caught in recent disasters, like the Camp fire that devastated Paradise. My sister and her husband lost their house and everything in it due to that fire..." -- Ray Lutz, El Cajon
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo:  Lutz family's home in flames
 
June 5, 2019 (San Diego) – Congressman Duncan D. Hunter was one of only two California Republicans who voted against a $19.1 billion federal disaster relief bill that includes an estimated $12.6 billion to help survivors of devastating wildfires in our state.  

BREAKING NEWS: CALFIRE/COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO RETAKES REMAINING JULIAN FIRE STATION; DEFIES STAY TRIGGERED BY APPEAL

San Diego County fails to pay JCFPD paramedics as agreed in earlier court judgment

Update: Sheriff's office declines to comment on eviction of the JCFPD

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

June 3, 2019 (Julian) -- CAL FIRE, under the authority of the San Diego County Fire Authority, retook the remaining Julian fire station Sunday afternoon. The station  has been held by volunteers Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD) with court approval after the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) dissolved the JCFPD, pending the outcome of litigation by those trying to save the county's last volunteer firefighting district.

The move by CAL FIRE and the Sheriff’s Department failure to halt the takeover was in defiance of an appeal filed to the San Diego Superior Appellate Court Division immediately after Superior Court Judge Randa Trapp on Friday ordered members of the JCFPD to vacate Fire Station No. 56 in her Friday ruling.  The appeal triggers an automatic stay, the County’s director of communications acknowledged Friday, prior to the forced takeover this weekend. Judge Trapp on Friday also affirmed that no eviction should occur until an appeal could be heard, according to a witness present in the courtroom. ECM is working to obtain videotape of the judge’s statement.

THREE FIRES CHAR OVER 30 ACRES IN DULZURA

By Miriam Raftery

May 30, 2019 (Dulzura) – Three wildfires collectively named the #94Fire broke out late this afternoon on State Route 94 between Otay Lakes Rd. and Freezer Rd. in Dulzura.  The fires forced closure of the highway for several hours,  causing severe traffic jams as traffic slowed to a crawl. The route is now reopened, Caltrans reports.

Cal Fire will remain on scene overnight at the largest fire near Gasoline Curve, which burned over 30 acres and is now 50% contained.  The other two fires have both been 100% contained. One burned an acre and the other scorched a third of an acre.

The blazes heighten concerns among residents about a proposed housing development at nearby Proctor Ranch which could result in an estimated 4,000 new residents further clogging evacuation routes.

The Jamul-Dulzura area is already ranked by Cal Fire as among the 1% worst communities in the state for evacuation during a wildfire due to lack of adequate evacuation routes.  By contrast, Paradise, California, which was leveled by a firestorm last year and killed over 80 people, was ranked among the worst 5%--so Jamul/Dulzura is even more dangerous.

FIREFIGHTERS BREAKFAST IN LA MESA

 
 
East County News Service
 
May 28, 2019 (La Mesa) --  Heartland Firefighters will be flipping pancakes at a pancake breakfast fundraiser on Saturday, June 8 from 8 a.m. to 12 noon at the downtown La Mesa Fire Station 11 (8034 Allison Ave.)  You're invited to bring your family and friends to this community event.

READER’S EDITORIAL: SAN DIEGO SUPERVISORS SHOULD JUST SAY NO TO FIRE-TRAP DEVELOPMENTS



By Peter A. Andersen, PhD, and Daniel H. Silver, MD

Photos by Miriam Raftery:  State Route 94, the primary evacuation route for Proctor Valley and communities from Jamul south to Barrett Junction, has been previously shut down for hours or even days by the Harris Wildfire, flooding, and serious accidents.  A Border Patrol station, casino and high school along the highway (not shown) all add to traffic back-ups and congestion at peak times, drawing frequent complaints from residents in recent years.

May 23, 2019 (Jamul/Proctor Valley) -- Deadly fires scorched California in 2017 and 2018, destroying thousands of homes and killing 44 people in wine country and 86 in Paradise. Emergency warning and evacuation systems failed. People burned in their cars trying to escape the flames. Homes built to new fire-safe building codes burned anyway in the intense heat. Rapidly moving fires overwhelmed safety systems and careful planning.

The County Board of Supervisors will vote in June whether to approve a major housing development in Jamul, a community already ranked in the bottom 1% of hard-to-evacuate locations in the state. What will convince the Board to apply the lessons of the massive northern California fires to local land-use decisions? At what point does willful ignorance of the risks become negligence?

AUTO DEALERSHIP FIRE DOUSED IN EL CAJON; BURN VICTIM TRANSPORTED TO UCSD MEDICAL CENTER



Updated at 11:02 with information on burn victim and estimated damge.

May 16, 2019 (El Cajon) -- A major fire has caused an estimated $100,000 of damage to a  structure at the New 2 You Autos used vehicle dealership at 930 El Cajon Blvd. near Washington in El Cajon tonight.  The fire is now extinguished.

The fire was reported at 9:13 p.m. by a caller from a nearby Walmart who was involved in the fire. He has been transported to the UCSD Medical Center burn unit.

Division Chief Mike Chasin told the press that this is the second fire at a car dealership recently, following a fire at a Mercedes Benz dealership last week.

Chemicals were found at the scene tonight and an arson investigation will be done, Chief Chasen confirms.. ECM reporter Paul Kruze reports at least eight fire engines were present to battle the blaze. A Hazmat unit arrived at 10:45 p.m. 

CAL FIRE INVESTIGATORS DETERMINE CAMP FIRE CAUSED BY PG&E POWER LINES

 

 

East County News Service

May 16, 2019 (Sacramento) -- The Camp Fire in Butte County, started the morning of November 8, 2018, and burned a total of 153,336 acres, destroying 18,804 structures and resulting in 85 civilian fatalities and several firefighter injuries. The Camp Fire is the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history. 

SDG&E ASKS SUPREME COURT TO RULE ON CONSTITUTIONALITY OF WILDFIRE COST RECOVERY LIMITS

 
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
May 12, 2019 (San Diego) – San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to declare it unconstitutional for states to make utilities strictly liability for wildfire damages without allowing companies to recover costs by charging ratepayers.

TIME TO PREPARE FOR WILDFIRES IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY

 

 

CAL FIRE and the County Fire Authority say don’t let the rainy weather fool you … fire season will be here before you know it. You should have a plan and be prepared now to protect yourself, your home and your community.

Learn more at readysandiego.org.

WILDFIRE INSURANCE LOSSES FROM NOVEMBER 2018 CALIFORNIA BLAZES TOP $12 BILLION

 
 
Department of Insurance urges residents to check their coverage during Wildfire Preparedness Week
 
Source: California Insurance Commissioner’s office
 
Photo: Butte Fire, creative comments by S.A.

May 8, 2019 (Sacramento) -- Insured losses from the most destructive wildfire month in California’s history climbed $614 million in the first three months of the year, pushing total claims over $12 billion as of April. The increase in claims came as homeowners and businesses continue to assess damages from the Camp Fire in Paradise and Butte County and the Woolsey and Hill Fires in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.

COUNTY AGREES TO COMPROMISE AFTER FILING FOR COURT ORDER TO FORCE VOLUNTEERS OUT OF JULIAN FIRE STATION

Despite dissolution put in force by LAFCO and County authorities, volunteers and supporters can stay in station at least 30 days, Judge Trapp rules

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

April 26, 2019 (San Diego) -- The County of San Diego and Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) went into Superior Court Judge Randa Trapp’s courtroom Thursday seeking an order to evict supporters of the dissolved Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD).

Instead, the Judge pushed both sides to hammer out a compromise agreement that  allows former volunteer firefighters and their supporters to remain in station 57 for at least 30 days while the legal issues work their way through the court system. 

Calls will be responded to by the County Fire Authority/Cal Fire and the County will have a right to inspect the station daily, with specifications.

JUDGE IS ASKED TO EVICT PEOPLE IN JULIAN FIRE STATION AS COUNTY FEARS SABOTAGE

 

 

By Ken Stone

Reprinted with permission from Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  Judge Randa Trapp will hear arguments Thursday and Friday in cases involving the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District. Photo by Ken Stone

April 25, 2019 (Julian) - Lawyers for San Diego County will ask a judge Thursday to evict volunteer firefighters and others who have locked themselves in the Julian fire station, saying they’re worried about equipment and property worth $3 million being stolen or damaged.

READER'S EDITORIAL: FORMER JULIAN FIRE & MEDICAL SERVICES CHIEF SPEAKS OUT

 

 

By Mike Van Bibber

April 14, 2019 (Julian) -- A message to our family, friends, and neighbors in the Julian-Cuyamaca community, throughout California, and across the United States:

The men and women of the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District are facing an illegal government takeover of our volunteer fire department — San Diego County’s last volunteer department — and that’s putting the public at risk. 

Throughout our history, JCFPD has been responding to emergency calls in our community: heart attacks, car crashes, wildfires, you name it. More than 60 members strong, we proudly serve everyone in the community — whether local or visitor, young or old, rich or poor, regardless of culture or creed. We are woven into the community’s fabric and remain in the station ready to serve in the event of an emergency. 

Legal documents and bureaucrats call this place a “special district.” We call it “home.”

Normally we’d be waiting here in the station until someone calls in need of help. Our history has always been responding to calls for help. But today is different. 

Today we are asking you for help. Today we are the ones who desperately need your help.

GOATS ARE BAAAA-CK TO CLEAR BRUSH, PREVENT WILDFIRES IN LEMON GROVE

        
 
By Sonny Saghera
 
April 23, 2019 (Lemon Grove) -- The City of Lemon Grove, along with its fire department, Heartland Fire & Rescue, will once again be taking steps to clear brush from eight and one-half acres of land near Lawton Drive and Camino De Las Palmas in Lemon Grove. Goats are being used as part of the process in clearing heavy brush to minimize fire danger and help create defensible space for homes in this area. 

SEE SMOKE TOMORROW THROUGH THURSDAY? SAN DIEGO COUNTY WILDLAND PREPAREDNESS EXERCISE APRIL 17-19

 

 

Source:  SDG&E, San Diego County Fire Chief's Association, Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians

April 16, 2019 (Alpine) - The San Diego County Fire Chiefs, in coordination with the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, will conduct their annual Wildland Fire Preparedness Exercise April 17-19, 2019. Numerous emergency service agencies from throughout San Diego County will come together to prepare for the upcoming fire season.

JUDGE WHO RULED IN FAVOR OF JULIAN CUYAMACA FIRE DISTRICT IN APR. 5 RULING TO ADJUDICATE EX-PARTE HEARING WEDNESDAY

 

 

Julian paramedics struggling after County freezes JCFPD funds

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

 

 

Read the documents here: JCFPDCourtDocuments

 

View older ECM article on Brown Act violations: https://www.eastcountymagazine.org/julian-cuyamaca-keep-fire-district-starts-path-healing

 

April 15, 2019 (Julian) -- The judge who ruled in favor of the Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District a week ago, San Diego Superior Court Judge Randa Trapp, late Friday afternoon was designated to preside over the ex parte hearing requested by JCFPD attorney Cory Briggs. The change of judge was noted in the legal case’s online Register of Actions on the San Diego Superior Court website.

COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO SHUTS OFF RADIO AND FREEZES BANK ACCOUNTS OF JULIAN FIRE & MEDICAL SERVICES

 

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

 

Photo: JCFPD Attorney Cory Briggs talks with community supporters

 

April 12, 2019 (Julian-Cuyamaca) - The Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD) on Wednesday had hoped that it would get its day in court after the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) unanimously voted to dissolve the rural Julian fire and medical emergency district on Monday.

SAN DIEGO LAFCO VOTES TO DISSOLVE JULIAN CUYAMACA FIRE DISTRICT IN DEFIANCE OF COURT ORDER; VOLUNTEERS STAGE SIT-IN AT FIRE STATION

 
 
 
 
Friday Superior Court ruling nullified initial application to dissolve district
 
By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor
 
 
 
 
April 9, 2019 (Julian-Cuyamaca) - Just when you might figure the drama over the future of the Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD) is over, after Monday’s vote by the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), it would appear it is only starting. This time around, there is one more player in the game, and volunteers are occupying the fire station until at least through Wednesday.

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