Wildfire News

JULIAN-CUYAMACA FIRE BOARD VOTES TO NEGOTIATE WITH COUNTY

 

Story and photos by A.J. Herrington

February 13, 2018 (Julian) -- The Board of Directors of the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD) has voted 3-2 to negotiate fire protection standards for the community with the County of San Diego, if the County takes over that responsibility from the district. Many of the area residents who attended the crowded meeting at Fire Station 56 on Highway 79 today believe it’s the beginning of the end for the last volunteer fire department in the county.

CAL FIRE CHIEF BILL CLAYTON, HERO OF PARADISE AND CEDAR FIRES, PASSES AWAY

 

 

 

Services to honor legendary firefighter are set for February 10th

By Miriam Raftery

February 5, 2018 (San Diego) – William R. “Bill” Clayton led the firefight that saved Julian’s historic downtown during the 2003 Cedar Fire. Just days earlier, the Cal Fire Division Chief led efforts to save nearly 200 people trapped in the Valley View Casino during the Paradise Fire—after coming out of retirement shortly before those devastating firestorms. 

The most honored member of California’s state firefighting agency now known as Cal Fire, the division chief passed away in his sleep on Sunday, February 4th, of natural causes.

Clayton received the most awards of any firefighter in Cal Fire history, including twice earning the Medal of Valor, the state’s highest award for bravery.

JULIAN-CUYAMACA FIRE FEE FAILS TO QUALIFY FOR BALLOT AS TENSIONS ESCALATE OVER FUTURE OF FIRE DISTRICT

 

Story and photo by Miriam Raftery

Photo: 2011 Angel Fire, burning behind Julian High School

February 3, 2018 (Julian) –  The San Diego County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu, in a letter to Patricia Landis, has advised that a proposed ballot measure to raise fees to $200 in the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District had only 191 valid signatures—34 signatures short of the 225 needed to qualify.

CA INSURANCE COMMISSIONER TELLS INSURERS MUDSLIDES IN SANTA BARBARA MUST BE COVERED IF CAUSED BY FIRES

 

Victims encouraged to file claims with insurers

Source: California Insurance Commissioner’s Office

January 29, 2018 (Santa Barbara) -- Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today issued a formal notice to all property and casualty insurance companies reminding them of their duty to cover damages from the recent mudslide and debris flows if it is determined that the ravaging of hillsides and vegetation by the Thomas and other fires was the efficient proximate cause of the mudslides. In general homeowners' insurance policies, excludes flood, mudslide, debris flow and other similar events.

RED FLAG WARNING SATURDAY THROUGH MONDAY

 

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

January 26, 2018 (San Diego) -- The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning due to high fire danger.  The warning is in effect from Saturday evening through Monday afternoon for all mountains and valleys across Southern California.

Gusty Santa Ana winds, low humidity and temperatures west of the mountains that could be 10 to 22 degrees above normal all contribute to the elevated risk risk.

FEMA ENCOURAGES TSUNAMI AWARENESS AND PREPAREDNESS FOR COASTAL COMMUNITIES

 

East County News Service

January 24, 2018 (Washington D.C.) --  Following an intense earthquake that occurred in the Gulf of Alaska yesterday, which prompted tsunami watches, advisories and warnings across many state coastlines, FEMA continues to highlight safety tips for those who live in or visit coastal communities.  While today’s immediate threat has passed, the situation serves as a reminder to all that there are steps that can be taken now, to prepare for future events.

SUPERVISORS APPROVE FUNDS FOR MORE CAMERAS TO SPOT WILDFIRES IN EAST COUNTY

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photos:  HPWREN images of Chariot Fire in 2013

January 23, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) – Five more cameras will soon be positioned atop mountains in East County to help spot wildfires and help firefighters douse flames early to prevent firestorms.  Supervisors on Tuesday approved funds to expand the UCSD Scripps Institute’s High-Performance Wireless Research and Education Network, or HPWREN.

FEMA ASSISTANCE NOW AVAILABLE FOR RESIDENTS IMPACTED BY THE DECEMBER 2017 LILAC FIRE

 

Source:  San Diego County Emergency

January 15, 2018 (San Diego) -- Residents of San Diego County who suffered damage or losses from the recent Lilac Fire in December 2017 can now register for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the County of San Diego advised today. 

CONTROLLED BURN NEAR PINE VALLEY STARTS TUESDAY

 
 
East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts
 
January 15, 2018 (Pine Valley) -- If you see smoke  over East County  on this week, be aware that Cal Fire San Diego will conduct its first controlled burn of the year starting on Tuesday. Ignition is set to begin by mid-morning and is expected to take place over several days until complete.
 
The planned 100-acre burn on Corte Madera Ranch south of I-8 near Pine Valley is part of Cal Fire's vegetation management program to help prevent future large wildfires. Smoke will be visible throughout the county.

FLOOD ADVISORY THROUGH 7 PM

January 9, 2018, 4:30 p.m. -- The National Weather Service in San Diego has issued an Areal Flood Advisory for San Diego County until 7:00 PM.

Doppler radar indicated moderate to heavy rain moving through San Diego County, especially the northwestern sections. This will likely cause urban and small stream flooding in the advisory area from the mountains west to the coast. Rainfall rates of up to one-half inch per hour could locally occur.

Some locations that will likely experience flooding include Chula Vista, Oceanside, Carlsbad, El Cajon, Vista, Encinitas, National City, La Mesa, Poway, portions of the San Diego city limits, North Park, Hillcrest and Midway District Including Lindbergh Field.

ASSEMBLY CANDIDATE JAMES ELIA SUPPORTS INVESTIGATION OF OUTAGES PLANNED BY SDG&E

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 9, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) – 71st Assembly candidate James Elia is speaking to support an investigation into the SDG&E planned power outages in December that left many thousands of residents across the county without electricity, in some cases for a full week.

FLOODING, CRASHES AND DEBRIS ON ROADWAYS

 

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

January 9, 2018 (9:45 a.m.) There are multiple hazards to report this morning per the CHP on East County roadways, including:

  • Lemoncrest in Lakeside is closed  from Wintergarden Blvd. to Riverview due to flooding in the 12028 block.
  • A high-wind advisory is in effect for I-8 east of Alpine and high-profile vehicles are not advised to travel here.
  • Mapleview at Pine in Lakeside is also flooded.
  • Debris is reported on I-8 west of the Sweetwater bridge in spring Valley.
  • In Ramona, there is roadway flooding at Hanson Lane and Wilson
  • A rockslide has been reported on Japatul Road with large boulders the size of deer; CHP is working to determine exact location of this slide called in.
  • A boulder half the size of a tire is reported in the left lane of Arnold Way at Tavern Road in Alpine.
  • A multi-car accident has occurred on I-8 west at Fletcher Parkway.

SUPERVISOR JACOB CALLS FOR CPUC INVESTIGATION INTO SDG&E POWER SHUT-OFFS; CPUC CONFIRMS IT WILL INVESTIGATE INTENTIONAL OUTAGES

 

By Miriam Raftery

Updated September 6, 2018 with response from SDG&E

September 4, 2018 (San Diego's East County) -- Supervisor Dianne Jacob has sent a letter to California Public Utilities Chairman Michael Picker requesting a formal investigation and independent review by the agency into  San Diego Gas & Electric’s decision to shut off power to thousands of San Diego County residents during recent Santa Ana winds, ostensibly to prevent power lines from sparking fires. 

In an email to ECM, a CPUC spokesman has confirmed that the regulatory agency will conduct an investigation into the intentional outages.

WILDFIRES BREAK RECORDS STATEWIDE

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 6, 2018 (San Diego) -- The number of wildfires last year in California was unprecedented, as was the total number of acres burned, Cal Fire Public Information Officer Isaac Sanchez reports.

As we move into the new year, Sanchez says 2017 will become “the history that we measure all future years against,” but he adds, “We must recognize that despite the reset, the fire danger in San Diego remains elevated.”

WINTER FIRE SAFETY TIPS

 

East County News Service

January 3, 2018 (San Diego's East County) - The weather is getting colder. Each year, more people die in home fires during the winter months than any other time of the year.

To help you to spread the word about fire safety, the U.S. Fire Administration offers these safety tips:  https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/media/social.html

TRUMP APPROVES DISATER AID FOR SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

 

East County News Service

January 3, 2018 (San Diego) – President Donald Trump on Tuesday approved a request by California Governor Jerry Brown for a federal disaster declaration due to wildfires in southern California that began December 4th, including the Lilac Fire in San Diego as well as devastating fires in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

BRUSH FIRE DOUSED IN LA MESA

 

By Miriam Raftery

Video by Wayne Zarling taking from Shadow Hill Drive

Photo by Jake Christie

January 2, 2018 (La Mesa) – A female seen running from the scene of a small brush fire on a hill in the Eastridge area of La Mesa today has been detained for questioning by the Sheriff’s department.

Heartland Fire and Rescue, along with San Miguel Fire and San Diego Fire Departments responded to the blaze that began around 1:25 p.m.  Crews arrived within four minutes to find a 20 by 40 foot spot fire on a slope along High Street near State Routes 125 and 94 that grew to approximately an acre before crews halted the forward spread a half hour later.

JULIAN AND CUYAMACA TO LOSE PARAMEDIC ENGINE STARTING JAUNARY 1

 

By Miriam Raftery

Updated 12 p.m. to include comments from Pat Landis.

December 30, 2017 (Julian/Cuyamaca)—On January1st,  the full-time staffed San Diego County Paramedic Fire Engine serving the Julian and Cuyamaca areas will be permanently closed. The action leaves the communities to rely solely on volunteer firefighters and one ambulance for fire and life safety services, which could lead to long delays in medical services if that unit is transportation a patient to a hospital, critics contend.

The paramedic engine had been providing fire and emergency medical response services 24 hours a day, seven days a week under a temporary agreement between the County of San Diego and the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District. The CAL FIRE Firefighters that were assigned to the engine have been reassigned to other facilities within San Diego County.

The action comes after the Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District voted to reject consolidation with the County Fire Department and remain independent—the last remaining volunteer fire department in the County.  Cal Fire firefighters blame the board for the current problems, but a former board member faults the district's fire chief.

CORY IVERSON'S WIDOW TO GRIEVING FIREFIGHTERS: "USE THIS NIGHTMARE TO HELP OTHERS"

 

By Ken Stone, originally published in Times of San Diego, a San Diego Online News Association member

December 24, 2017 (San Diego) - Ashley Iverson slowly inhaled. Then she let out a long breath in front of 1,800 mourners with their hearts in their throats.

“Just breathe is what I told one of my best friends when she lost her soulmate at the age of 22,” Iverson said at Saturday’s private memorial service for her firefighter husband Cory at The Rock Church in Liberty Station.

MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR FALLEN FIREFIGHTER CORY IVERSON TO BE LIVE-STREAMED TODAY

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 23, 2017 (San Diego) — Governor Jerry Brown is expected to attend a memorial service Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Rock Church in  Point Loma to honor Cory D. Iverson, a Cal Fire engineer station in Dulzura who lost his life battling the Thomas Fire in Ventura County.  The service is private, but will be live-streamed for the public to view at www.SDRock.com/Iverson.  

"His bravery and years of committed service to the people of California will never be forgotten," said Governor Brown, who ordered flags at the state capitol flown at half mast.

SDG&E RESPONDS TO OUTAGE CONCERNS, BUT LEGISLATORS HUESO AND VOEPEL IGNORE INQUIRIES

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Dennis Richardson

December 19, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) – SDG&E has responded to our inquiry seeking answers to questions raised by concerned readers during planned outages to 17,000 SDG&E customers due to last week’s high winds, which ECM reported on here and here.

Helen Gao,  communications manager for Sempra Energy,  parent company of SDG&E,  sent the following reply to our questions on topics including loss claims, factors that determine when to shut off power, people with medical needs, support for residents during outages in need of water and communications, adjusting bills to eliminate charges during outages, and what might be done in communities with repeated outages to reduce or eliminate that need in the future.

Below is her response in full, followed by comments from rural residents with contrasting opinions on the outages:

CAL FIRE MAKES PREPARATIONS TO HONOR FALLEN ENGINEER CORY IVERSON

 

Source: Cal Fire

December 18, 2017 (El Cajon) -- CAL FIRE Incident Management Team 6 (IMT 6) has transitioned in partnership with the CAL FIRE San Diego Unit as they make final arrangements for a Celebration of Life to honor Engineer Cory Iverson, who lost his life battling the Thomas Fire in Ventura County. 

PLANE CRASH IN EL CAJON

 

 

 

Update December 19, 2017:  The plane had taken off from Gillespie Field when the pilot reported engine trouble. He was trying to return to the airport when the crash occurred. Two of the three men aboard were officers with the Huntington Beach Police Department. The two officers have been released from the hospital, according to the Orange County Register, but the third man remains hospitalized.

East County WIldfire & Emergency Service

Photos by John Sulser

December 17, 2017 (El Cajon) -- A single engine plane has crashed near Gillespie Way and Weld in El Cajon, close to Gillespie Field, El Cajon Police report.

Witnesses report a pilot, copilot and passenger escaped before the plane caught fire and have been transported to a hospital.

CAUSE OF DEATH, MEMORIAL DETAILS RELEASED ON CORY IVERSON

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 16, 2017 (Dulzura) – Smoke inhalation and burns were the causes of death for Cal Fire engineer Cory Iverson, 32, according to the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s report. The Dulzura-based firefighter and resident of Escondido died in the Fillmore, California area while battling the Thomas Fire. 

WANT POWER DURING OUTAGES? LEARN HOW TO BUY A GENERATOR DEC. 20 AT THE ALPINE LIBRARY

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 15, 2017 (Alpine)—With SDG&E turning off power repeatedly during high winds, having an automatic standby generator can keep your lights on and keep critical systems such as well pumps, refrigerators, and computers operating during outages.  On Wednesday, December 20 at 5 p.m. , a presentation on generators will be held at the Alpine Library, 1752 Alpine Blvd. in Alpine.

Learn about the different types of generators such as propane vs. gas operated and features to consider such as a commercial-grade engine, non-corrosive enclosure and extended warranty. 

CAL FIRE FIREFIGHTER STATIONED AT DULZURA DIES IN THOMAS FIRE

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 14, 2017 (Dulzura) – Cal Fire engineer Cory Iverson, 32, who was stationed in Dulzura, has died of injuries sustained fighting the Thomas Fire in Ventura County this morning.  A resident of Escondido, he leaves behind a 2-year-old daughter, Evie and his wife, Ashley, who is expecting the couple’s second daughter in the spring.

"Today has been a tragic and devastating day," Cal Fire San Diego County Fire Chief Tony Mecham told media at a press conference. "This incident has shaken our organization to the core." He praised Iverson as “a great young man, somebody who really loved his job."

JULIAN FIRE RECALL AND NO CONFIDENCE VOTE RAISE FIERY ISSUES IN MOUNTAIN TOWN

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 14, 2017 (Julian) — The Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District is the only volunteer fire department in our region that has chosen to remain independent.  The department’s board voted recently 4 to 1 vote against dissolving the district and joining the San Diego County Fire Authority (SDCFA), sparking heated debate.

SDG&E RESTORES POWER AFTER PROLONGED OUTAGES; RESIDENTS WHO SUFFERED STRESS AND LOSS WANT CHANGES FOR FUTURE

 

 

Residents angered at loss of water pumps, alarm systems, refrigeration, comunication and heat during outages up to a week in some areas that have suffered repeated outages

By Miriam Raftery

December 12, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) – SDG&E announced last night that it has fully restored power to all customers who were de-energized due to “public safety concerns” following a week-long red flag warning with strong gusty winds, low humidity and dangerous fire conditions.  An SDG&E media release states, “After crews inspected power lines all day in coordination with contract firefighters who were on hand to ensure a safe restoration process, power was turned on for all remaining customers. Field crews patrolled on the ground and in the air. Aerial inspections were completed by five helicopters in rural, mountainous areas."

Power remains out to 56 customers in the Lilac Fire zone in North County, where full restoration is expected early Tuesday evening. All 43 poles damaged in the fire will be replaced with fire-resistant steel poles and thicker, stronger wires, SDG&E indicates, adding, ““We understand that being without power, for any reason, is an inconvenience and we appreciate the patience we have received from our customers.”  For current information on outages and restoration times, visit sdge.com/outage.

Across East County,  many residents in rural, mountain and high desert towns have taken to social media to voice concerns over the prolonged outages.  Although SDG&E says it did provide advance notice to 170,000 customers of possible planned outages due to high winds and fire danger, before shutting off power to many thousands of homes, many rural residents say that’s not enough – and they want changes made. Below are highlights of residents' concerns and proposals.

FIRE WEATHER RETURNS

 

 

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

December 13, 2017 (San Diego's East County) - A red flag warning for high fire danger is in effect today through Thursday. In addition, the National Weather Service is forecasting strong Santa Ana winds this weekend over the mountains, foothills and passes in San Diego County. Wind gusts could reach 50 to 60 miles and hour with sustained easterly or northeasterly winds of 20 to 30 miles per hour.

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