Wildfire News

HEARTLAND FIRE & RESCUE APPOINTS NEW CHIEF

 

Source: Heartland Fire & Rescue

Photo:  Steve Swaney, new Heartland Fire Chief

October 17, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) --The Cities of El Cajon, La Mesa and Lemon Grove, which jointly manage Heartland Fire & Rescue, have selected Steve Swaney as the next Fire Chief.  The City Managers for the three cities (Graham Mitchell of El Cajon, Yvonne Garrett of La Mesa, and Lydia Romero of Lemon Grove) made the announcement that Swaney will begin serving in this capacity on October 20, 2018.  Chief Swaney replaces Colin Stowell, who recently was appointed Fire Chief for the City of San Diego.

FATE OF VOTE ON JULIAN VOLUNTEER FIRE FORCE AWAITS PETITION SIGNATURE COUNT

 

 

By Ken Stone 

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

Photo:  Julian Volunteer Fire Department advocate Lori Foss turns in petition signatures at LAFCO hearing. Photo by Ken Stone

October 17, 2018 (Julian) - Like a cliffhanger election, it will take a week or two for Julian residents to learn if they have a chance at saving their last-in-the-county volunteer fire department.

TRAVELING 911 MEMORIAL PAINTING ARRIVES AT SANTEE FIRE STATION ON OCT. 18

 

Source: Santee Fire Department

October 16, 2018 (Santee) -- An original art work honoring the sacrifice of first responders on September 11,2001 will make Santee its home for the next three months.

The 3-by-4-foot oil painting portrays a New York firefighter with is head in his hands standing below a tattered American flag with the iconic wreckage of the Twin Towers in the background.

FIRE OFFICIAL CALLS SEASONAL OUTLOOK ‘SCARY,’ URGES PREPAREDNESS

 

 

By Yvette Urrea Moe, County of San Diego Communications Office

PhotoCAL FIRE Forester Eric Just demonstrates how he clips and dries vegetation to check for fuel moisture content.

 October 16, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) - San Diego County area fire chiefs are preparing for a potentially dangerous peak fire season due to historically dry fuel conditions. Residents are reminded to take all precautions and be ready to evacuate if needed.

HEAR OUR INTERVIEWS: JULIAN-CUYAMACA FIRE CHIEF, PARAMEDIC AND FIRE SURVIVOR SPEAK OUT TO SAVE THEIR FIRE DEPARTMENT

 

"Since the inception of the San Diego County Fire Department in 2008, this county has lost over 400 volunteer firefighters, boots on the ground that were guarding their homefront...That's sad." -- JCFPD Battalion Chief Mike Van Bibber

“Ranchita in the month of June this year was covered six days. That’s all.” – Karen Kiefer, JCFPD firefighter-paramedic, on services after the County Fire Authority began its takeover of the volunteer department  June 1st.

"They came and found us...it was dark, the embers were everywhere...the roof was on fire," Lori Foss says of JCFPD volunteer firefighters who saved her life and her home during the 2007 Witch Fire

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District firefighter-paramedic Karen Kiefer and Chief Mike Van Bibber

 

October 11, 2018 (Julian) – The battle to save the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District, the last volunteer fire district in San Diego County, has reached a heated pitch. Residents are gathering signatures seeking to block the takeover by the County Fire Authority approved by the Local Agency Formation Commission in September, before an October 16th public protest meeting with LAFCO.

On our radio show on KNSJ, East County Magazine interviewed the JCFPD battalion Chief Mike Van Bibber, along with firefighter-paramedic and former emergency medical services director Karen Kiefer, a well as Lori Foss, who lost her home in the 2003 Cedar Fire and had her home and family saved in the 2007 Witch Creek Fire by Julian’s volunteer firefighters. They believe that the takeover will leave Julian and surrounding areas less safe due to longer response times by engines coming from farther away, with no “home team” to respond quickly to medical emergencies, car accidents or structure fires.  Click the audio link to hear the full interview, or scroll down to read highlights.

Audio: 

Interview with JCFPD Chief Mike Van Bibber, firefighter-paramedic Karen Kiefer and fire survivor Lori Foss

SUPERVISORS VOTE TO BAN TARGET SHOOTING NEAR DONOHOE MOUNTAIN IN DULZURA

 

 

East County News Service 

Photo: Gate Fire started by target shooters in 2017 near Dulzura

October 11, 2018 (Dulzura) — By a 3-2 vote, San Diego County Supervisors approved an ordinance introduced by Dianne Jacob to ban recreational target shooting year-round on two portions of Bureau of Land Management property near Dulzura. The action aims to reduce wildfire risk following multiple blazes sparked by target shooting.  The ban does not apply to hunting of legal game.

RAMONA FIRE PREVENTION AND PREPAREDNESS WORKSHOP OCT. 18 AT RAMONA LIBRARY

 

East County News Service

October 3, 2018 (Ramona) – A free Ramona fire prevention and preparedness workshop will be held on Thursday, October 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Ramona Library, 1275 Main Street in Ramona.

Participants include representatives from Cal Fire, County Fire Authority, California Highway Patrol, Sheriff’s department, County Animal Services, and more.  View flyer for full details.

The forum is cosponsored by Hatfield Creek and Ramona Ranch Wineries.

CAL FIRE DETERMINES CAUSES OF TWO LOCAL FIRES

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 1, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) – The Cinnamon Fire, which burned 13 acres in Ramona on July 20th  and destroyed a home that was a former stage coach stop dating back to 1870, was caused by use of equipment, says Cal Fire public information officer Isaac Sanchez.

NATIONAL WIRELESS EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM TEST POSTPONED TO OCT. 3

 

No reason to become alarmed. Your mobile phone will emit a special tone and vibrate as it receives an emergency test message on Oct. 3.  It is part of a nationwide test by the Federal Emergency Management Agency of Wireless Emergency Alerts systems to assess its effectiveness.

HONDA DRIVER AND PASSENGER KILLED IN LAKESIDE CRASH

 

SIG Alert issued; Wildcat Canyon Rd. closed at Willows Rd.

By Miriam Raftery

September 27, 2018 (Lakeside) – A collision on Wildcat Canyon Road this morning has resulted in two fatalities. A 21-year-old woman and a 53-year-old man, both from El Cajon, died after they were ejected from a 1992 Honda Accord that struck a 2013 Porsche Cayenne.

According to the CHP, the Honda was traveling south on Wildcat Canyon north of Willow Road at a high speed when the Honda struck a concrete curb. The driver veered left, directly into the path of the Porsche, which was driven by a Santee woman, 43.

“The two vehicles collided broadside,” said Officer Travis Garrow. “The force of the impact split the Honda in half.”

FROM THE FIRE CHIEF’S CORNER: FALLING RIGHT INTO FIRE SEASON

 

 

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

September 24, 2018 (San Diego) -- This is the first week of fall, and with it comes Santa Ana wind season. Though fire season is year round, fall typically brings triple-digit temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds bringing high fire danger and red flag warnings. 

SAN MIGUEL FIREFIGHTERS CLIMBED 110 FLIGHTS IN MEMORIAL TRIBUTE TO 911 HEROES

 

By Miriam Raftery

View video:  https://www.facebook.com/SanMiguelFireRescue/videos/666970520352994/

September 23, 2018 (San Diego) – Firefighters from the San Miguel Fire District joined with other first responders locally in the 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb in San Diego. They ascended 110 stories – the height of the fallen World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York--at the Hilton San Diego Bay Front Hotel on September 8th.

SAN MIGUEL FIRE BOARD ELECTIONS COULD IMPACT BALANCE OF POWER IN NEWLY INDEPENDENT DISTRICT

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photos: Ek, McKenna and Vacio billboard; Kiel image via Facebook

September 23, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) – The November election could have high stakes in the San Miguel Fire Protection District.  A slate of three incumbents who voted to return the district to local control and axe a contract with Cal-Fire are running for reelection: Theresa McKenna, Jim Ek and Mike Vacio. All are backed by the district’s firefighters. Also in the race is William A. Kiel, son of board member William Kiel, who voted against ending the contract with Cal Fire.

CPUC TO HOLD WORKSHOP IN SAN DIEGO SEPT. 28 TO EXPLORE IMPROVEMENTS TO UTILITY EMERGENCY PLANNING AND LOCAL COORDINATION

 

Source:  CPUC

September 21, 2018 - The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will hold a public workshop in San Diego to examine existing emergency coordination and communication efforts by electric and water utilities with local and state government agencies and other stakeholders, and consider the need for new rules and regulations.

LAKESIDE FIRE BOARD CANDIDATES RESPOND TO QUESTIONS

 

By Miriam Raftery

September 18, 2018 (Lakeside) – Five candidates are running for the Lakeside Fire Protection District Board.  Three are incumbents:   Robert Robeson, a retired Cal Fire assistant chief, Mike Haworth, a retired fire division chief, Peter Liebig, a retired firefighter/paramedic. Two are challengers:  fire captain Tim Robles and volunteer emergency responder Ron Kasper.

East County Magazine sent questionnaires to all five, and three responded (Robeson, Haworth and Kasper).   Below are their responses (published in the order received), plus links to their ballot statements.

SDG&E’S FIREFIGHTING AIR-CRANE NOW STATIONED IN EAST COUNTY YEAR-ROUND

 

Utility also announces it has begun installing portable generators to minimize planned power outages in critical wildfire areas and will open Community Resource Centers during fire events.

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

September 14, 2018 (El Cajon) - With the threat of wildfires now constant rather than a fall season rite of passage, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) held a press conference last week to showcase its innovative firefighting “Air-Crane” at a Gillespie Field hangar.

ALPINE FOUNDATION HELPFUL TO FIRE SURVIVORS, OTHERS

 

By Jo Moreland, Alpine-Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce

September 13, 2018 (Alpine) - As a result of Alpine’s West Fire, a local organization to help provide tax-deductible donations for local causes is now a significant one for fire survivors. Thanks to generous people, businesses and organizations, donations for West Fire survivors are being made available for distribution through the Alpine Community Foundation.

LAFCO VOTES TO END JULIAN VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPT., INVITES TOWN TO SAVE IT

 

By Ken Stone

Reprinted by Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  Devi Ketelsen, 7, reads statement to LAFCO board while being held by mother Jamie. Photo by Ken Stone

September 11, 2018 (Julian) - The only way to save Julian’s last-in-the-county volunteer fire department is to order it destroyed, LAFCO board members declared Monday.

By a 7-0 vote, the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission accepted staff advice to dissolve the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District.

JULIAN RESIDENTS AGAINST COUNTY TAKEOVER OF FIRE SERVICES WIN VICTORY IN COURT, BUT SETBACK AT LAFCO HEARING

 

 

Battle to save the county's last volunteer fire district now hinges on a protest process that could give voters the final say

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Miriam Raftery, Editor, also contributed to this report.
 

Photo:  Battalion Chief Mike Van Bibber, Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District

September 11, 2018 (Julian) -- A group of Julian area residents fighting fire axes-and-hoses against a county takeover of fire and medical first responder services won a firm victory last Thursday in Superior Court. Judge Timothy Taylor ruled to allow a ballot measure to fund future operations for the Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD).

Backers of the initiative hoped the ruling would curtail the County of San Diego’s efforts to terminate the JCFPD, the region’s last all-volunteer fire department, and shift fire and ambulance services to the County Fire Authority (CFA) in conjunction with Cal Fire.

But despite Judge Taylor’s ruling, yesterday the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) voted 7-0 to dissolve the district. Residents could still block the takeover through a protest process that’s now been triggered.  Determined opponents of the takeover are gearing up for the fight, arguing that eliminating volunteer firefighters who live in the community will make the area less safe, not safer has had been promised by the CFA.

WILDLAND URBAN INTERFACE WORKSHOP OFFERED ADVICE THAT COULD SAVE YOUR HOME AND YOUR LIFE

 

 

By Jan Hedlun

Photo by Miriam Raftery: 2007 Harris Fire

September 11, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) - Living in a rural backcountry is a blessing and a curse. The blessing is seeing an abundance of stars at night, wildlife, and the relative peace and quiet the city can't offer. The curse: some of that wildlife bites, and wildfires are a constant threat for most of the year.

LAKESIDE FIRE DISTRICT IS HIRING

 

Source: Lakeside Fire

September 7, 2018 (Lakeside) -- The Lakeside Fire District is hiring for both entry-level Firefighter-Paramedic and Reserve Firefighter. Check out this dramatic video (https://twitter.com/i/status/1038201517344468992) and visit http://lakesidefire.net  for more information.

Applications close on November 1, 2018 at 4:00 p.m.

BILL ON GOVERNOR’S DESK COULD MAKE RATEPAYERS PAY FOR WILDFIRES CAUSED BY UTILITIES’ EQUIPMENT IN 2017 AND BEYOND

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

September 2, 2018 (Sacramento)—California ratepayers could be forced to pay for costs of the 2017 wildfires and some future firestorms caused by utilities’ equipment, if Senate Bill 901 currently on the Governor’s desk is signed into law. Consumers who wish to weigh in can call Governor Jerry Brown’s office at (916) 558-2840 or fax (916) 558-3160.

The language is in an omnibus bill that addresses many wildfire-related issues including wildfire prevention, response and recovery as well as funding for mutual aid, fuel reduction and forestry policies, wildfire mitigation plans by utilities and cost recovery by electricity utility corporations for wildfire-related damages.

All of East County’s legislators voted for the bill including Republicans Randy Voepel and Joel Anderson as well as Democrats Ben Hueso and Shirley Weber.

BENEFIT SEPT. 8 TO HELP MORE WEST FIRE SURVIVORS IN ALPINE

 

 

East County News Service 

August 31, 2018 (Alpine) -- The Alpine Fire Survivors Fundraiser on Saturday, Sept. 8, in Alpine will provide entertainment while raising money for people who need help after the recent West Fire. A car show, Kids Zone activities, blues band Chet and the Committee, food for sale, an opportunity drawing, vendors and more are scheduled from 2 -7 p.m. at the American Legion Post at 3328 Alpine Blvd.  

COUNTY PARTNERS WITH LYFT TO DRIVE DISASTER PREPAREDNESS

 

 

By County News Center, County of San Diego Communications Office

Photo:  Sign up to receive free emergency information from AlertSanDiego as part of a preparedness promotion with Lyft and you may get a $10 discount on a ride.  Image via Pixabay

August 31, 2018 (San Diego) - San Diego County is vulnerable to many types of emergencies: fires, floods, and earthquakes just to name a few. These disasters can strike at any time, and we should all be prepared to keep ourselves, and our loved ones, safe. But a 2017 survey conducted by the County found only half of San Diego County residents are prepared to evacuate their homes within 15 minutes. Only 38 percent have an emergency plan.

FREE ONE-DAY, IN-DEPTH WILDFIRE SAFETY WORKSHOP OFFERED IN POTRERO

 

Learn what firefighters know about protecting homes and communities from wildfire

East County News Service

August 29, 2018 (Potrero) - The Fire Safe Council of San Diego County is taking fire safety training to local communities that are at high-risk for wildfires. Some of the most vulnerable areas are those in the Wildland Urban Interface, or WUI, which is defined as residential areas that abut to open space. The next workshop, called Fire Operations in the Wildland Urban Interface, will be in Potrero on Saturday, September 8, 2018.

HYDROGEN EXPLOSION IN EL CAJON

 

East County Wildfire and Emergency Alerts

August 29, 2018 (El Cajon) -- A fire caused by ignition of hydrogen at a filling station where a hydrogen truck was refueling has prompted evacuation of schools and delays in trolley service in El Cajon.

Heartland Fire advises the public to avoid the 1100 block of W. Bradley (near Cuyamaca) until around 1 p.m. Cuyamaca is closed from Friendship Dr to Vernon Wy & W. Bradley is closed from Cuyamaca to Johnson Ave

Metropolitan Transit Services advises, "Sycuan Green Line trains are turning at Arnele Station & Orange Line trains are turning at El Cajon Transit Center. Expect delays."

HUNDREDS TURN OUT TO HELP FIRE SURVIVORS IN ALPINE

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

August 19, 2018 (Alpine) – “Your life can change at the drop of dime,” Lisa Ford told a standing-room only crowd of more than 400 people packed the Alpine Community Center last night for a fundraiser to help survivors of the West Fire.

WEST FIRE RECOVERY EFFORTS PROGRESSING IN ALPINE

 

Fundraiser tonight

By Jo Moreland

August 18, 2018 (Alpine) -- Alpine has moved from emergency relief to recovery since the July 6 West Fire destroyed and damaged dozens of homes and other buildings.

That’s the assessment of authorities still working to help about 55 families displaced after flames blazed through the eastern edges of the foothills community of about 16,000 people.

Pages