Wildfire News

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.

IT’S OFFICIAL: JULIAN-CUYAMACA CITIZENS VOTE TO ABOLISH ITS INDEPENDENT FIRE PROTECTION AGENCY

 

 

Residents weigh legal challenge as election paves way for County Fire Authority and CAL FIRE to assume fire protection and medical emergency services

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

 

April 5, 2019 (Julian-Cuyamaca) - After nearly two years of controversy, Julian residents voted on Mar. 19 by mail ballot to abolish the 34-year old Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD) and replace it with fire and medical emergency services provided by the San Diego Fire Authority and Cal Fire.

COUNTY SAYS JULIAN-CUYAMACA FIREFIGHTERS CAN SERVE AS VOLUNTEERS ALONGSIDE CAL-FIRE IF THEY SIGN UP BY APRIL 15: BUT NOBODY TOLD JULIAN’S FIRE CHIEF

 

Update April 4, 2019 -- Alex Bell, public information officer for San Diego, has clarified that on March 29, the same day our story below ran, a letter was sent to JFCPD Chief Van Bibber and the JCFPD board president via email and certified mail notifying him of volunteer opportunities. In addition a flyer was provided to them for distribution to their volunteers. "Since Monday, 8 Julian firefighters have applied to the County Fire Authority program," Bell told ECM.

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 29, 2019 (Julian) – Measure A, the ballot initiative to abolish the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD) and put the San Diego County Fire Authority/CAL FIRE in charge of emergency services, appears to have passed by a slim 114 vote margin, 54% to 46%, according to the Registrar of Voters though the results won’t be certified until April 4.

The County issued a press release today headlined “Julian joins the County Fire Authority.”  The County states this will bring “full-time professional firefighting and paramedic service to the popular East County tourist destinations.”

“Now that voters in Julian have spoken, it is my hope that the entire community will come together and rally around our common goal to bolster fire protection and other emergency services in the area,” said Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Dianne Jacob, who represents the area. The JCFPD is San Diego County's last all-volunteer firefighting department.

But now the County appears to have offered an olive branch to the 60 volunteers in the JCFPD with an opportunity to continue to serve-yet the County failed to inform the JCFPD's Chief or others about that opportunity and a looming deadline.

GOV. NEWSOM DECLARES EMERGENCY FOR WILDFIRE PREVENTION: CREST, GUATAY IN EAST COUNTY AMONG “VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES” TARGETED

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office

March 26, 2019 (San Diego) – Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday proclaimed a state of emergency over wildfire dangers to “protect the state’s most vulnerable communities,” according to a press release issued by his office.  

SAN MIGUEL FIRE BOARD TO HOLD MARCH 27 HEARING ON SHIFT TO DIVISION ELECTIONS AND NOMINATION OF LAFCO MEMBERS

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 23, 2019 (Spring Valley) – The San Miguel Fire Protection District board voted Feb. 27 to shift to “by division” elections instead of at-large elections.  On March 27 T 5:30 p.m., the board will hold the second of two hearings to solicit public input, after which maps will be drawn for proposed districts.

CALIFORNIA NATIONAL GUARD SHIFTS FROM BORDER TO FIRE PREVENTION

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Creative commons by S.A.

March 20, 2019 (San Diego) -- Instead of putting up razor wire at the border, California’s National Guard troops will soon be wielding shovels, rakes and chainsaws to clear brush, thin trees and help prevent the spread of wildfires.

JULIAN VOTES TO ABOLISH THE JULIAN CUYAMACA FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Miriam Raftery, Editor, contributed to this report

Update March 27, 2019: The margin has narrowed slightly but Measure A still leads by 114 votes and a 7.96% margin: yes 53.98%, no 46.02%

March 19, 2019 (Julian) – The County’s last all-volunteer fire department may soon be history. With 1,294 ballots counted tonight, Measure A is passing with 55.56%, the Registrar of Voters reports.

The measure would affirm a decision made last September by the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) to abolish the 35-year-old Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District. Fire and ambulance services would be shifted entirely to the County Fire Authority, under the direction of Cal-Fire.

The Registrar’s office will continue to accept ballots until Friday, if postmarked by today. It is unclear how many ballots mailed out have not yet been returned, or whether there could be enough to make up the 145-vote gap (719 to 575).

Cal-Fire firefighters’ union local #2881 posted on Facebook tonight, “Thank you to the Citizens of Julian and Cuyamaca for the opportunity to serve them.” (photo, left)

For backers of the JCFPD who have fought hard to keep their volunteer firefighters, however, the outcome sparked strong emotions.

RESPONSE TO EDITORIAL ON MEASURE A FROM CAL-FIRE FIREFIGHTERS LOCAL 2881 VICE-PRESIDENT PATRICK WALKER

By William T. Everett, Board Member, Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District

March 14, 2019 (Julian) -- Union Vice-President Patrick Walker believes that the Julian Cuyamaca "volunteer fire station is inefficient and unable to provide adequate fire and life safety services in comparison to full time." He goes on to tout his experience and career as the reason he is credible. Yet, numerous Fire Chiefs and career firefighters throughout California, with far more experience than Walker, strongly disagree with his conclusion. What is the difference between Walker and the others? It is simple. Walker works for the Cal-Fire union and his primary responsibility is to promote the union and help create more union jobs. 

It appears that Walker's primary argument in favor of dissolving the Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District is his claim that full-time firefighters are better for the community than part-time (i.e., volunteers). What Mr. Walker either doesn't know or doesn't want the public to know is that the Julian fire station is now staffed full-time with 60  firefighters (volunteers) that are as highly trained and qualified as any "professional" firefighters in the United States.

READER’S EDITORIAL: MEASURE A AND THE FUTURE OF FIRE SERVICES IN JULIAN AND CUYAMACA

By Patrick Walker, Vice President, CAL FIRE Firefighters Local #2881 – San Diego District

"It is my belief that the volunteer only fire station is inefficient and unable to provide adequate fire and life safety services in comparison to full time."

March 12, 2019 (Julian-Cuyamaca) -- I want to start by clarifying my comments within this editorial are not representative of CAL FIRE, but of my position as the 10th District Vice President within CAL FIRE Firefighters Local #2881, the labor organization that represents the Professional Firefighters of CAL FIRE in San Diego County. 

I will begin with information about my Fire Department and Labor background, as I believe in absolute transparency.  At 16 years old I began as a Fire Explorer with the San Pasqual Fire Department as well as the Ramona Fire Department.  I graduated High School in Ramona, went into the US Army and upon return became a firefighter with CAL FIRE in 1997.  I have worked in the counties of:  San Diego, Riverside, Santa Clara, Amador and El Dorado in my 20-year employment with CAL FIRE.  I have held the ranks for Volunteer Firefighter, Volunteer Fire Engine Operator, Volunteer Fire Captain, and with CAL FIRE I have worked as Firefighter I, Firefighter II, Engineer, Fire Captain and currently hold the rank of Battalion Chief working in South San Diego County.  I am married with children and reside in the City of San Diego.

TWO SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA RESOURCE CONSERVATION DISTRICTS AWARDED $3 MILLION TO INCREASE FIRE RESILIENCY THROUGHOUT THE REGION

 

 

Source:  RFFC

March 13, 2019 (San Diego) -- The Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) of Greater San Diego County (RCDGSDC) and Inland Empire (IERCD) were each awarded $1.5 million by the California Natural Resources Agency and the Department of Conservation to improve forest health and increase fire resiliency throughout key segments of San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties.

READER'S EDITORIAL: 18 GRADUATES FROM FIRE ACADEMY JOIN JULIAN-CUYAMACA FIREFIGHTERS

 
 
By Patricia Landis
 
March 4, 2019 (Julian) — Today was a good day.  Eighteen men and women graduated from the JCFPD Academy and will join JCFPD as Firefighters. One more will be added after he completes the last few classes, but he could not graduate today because he sustained a broken elbow, slipping on the ice while training. Chief Mike Van Bibber orchestrated the graduation ceremony and pinned each firefighter with their new badge. 

JULIAN-CUYAMACA FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT BALLOT MEASURE: A “YES” VOTE DISSOLVES DISTRICT, A “NO” VOTE SAVES VOLUNTEER DEPT.

 

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor, and Miriam Raftery, Editor

 

February 26, 2019 (Julian) — Voters in the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD) have until March 19 to mail in their ballots on Measure A. The ballot language is confusing to some.  

 

In plain English, a “yes” vote would dissolve the county’s last all-volunteer firefighting district and put the San Diego County Fire Authority run by Cal Fire in sole charge of fire and emergency medical protection.  A “no” vote would save the district from dissolving and keep the volunteer firefighters and paramedics who have protected the area for over 20 years, with Cal Fire providing backup/mutual aid.

FEMA ANNOUNCES COST SHARE ADJUSTMENT FOR THREE DISASTERS

 

 

Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

February 26, 2019 (Washington D.C.) -- FEMA Administrator Brock Long announced that the federal cost-share for three major disaster declarations caused by wildfires in 2018 has increased from 75 to 90 percent, including major fire in California.

CAL FIRE SAYS SNOWED-IN FIRE ENGINE POST WAS A HOAX



Update Feb. 22, 2019 10:26 a.m.  This morning the Julian Times posted a photo on its Facebook page showing Cal Fire/CFA engines purportedly stuck in snow. Scroll down for the image. 

In addition, Times of San Diego forwarded this aerial video provided by a Julian resident showing Cal Fire engines in heavy snow at the station this morning:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1C6U3pTQIY3W7UJd2Jd6EC-wHghTwzEqp/view?fbclid=IwAR2CcW9R9b5rPvicADyqPXU_XtYJ4DhBe87yicG5lihg12g-g7VLkoMti44

 



By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Rachel Goddard,, JCFPD volunteers clear a tree blocking a snowy road.

February 22, 2019 (Julian) -- With up to two feet of snow blanketing the mountains of East County last night, a post circulating on social media and sent to ECM last night contained a screenshot that appeared to be a screen shot from a County Fire Authority social media page. The post stated that  its Cal Fire Station 51 in Julian and a fire engine "is unable to respond to calls and is out of service due to the growing snow conditions." (See screenshot below.)

But this morning, Cal Fire Deputy Chief Nick Schuler told ECM that the image and its message was "false" and not an official Cal Fire page. He said Cal Fire engines were in operation responding to calls at the time. Schuler blamed advocates of a contentious ballot initiative to keep the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District independent for circulating what he states was a hoax. ECM has requested call logs for the evening from both agencies.

Volunteer firefighters with the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District sent ECM a photo last night demonstrating a can-do spirit as they continued to serve their community during the emergency conditions, responding to calls for medical assistance and removing a downed tree. (Photo, left, courtey of the JCFPD.)

JCFPD Chief Mike Van Bibber told ECM today that he is confident the post did not originate with his firefighters. He added that one of his team owns a backhoe that was used to keep the JCFPD station clear for engines' access.

After we received Schuler's statement, this morning the Julian Times posted this photo on their Facebook page which appears to show two CFA engines temporarily blocked in by snow:

AS VOTERS PREPARE TO CAST BALLOTS ON FUTURE OF JULIAN AREA'S FIRE DEPARTMENT, COUNTY ANNOUNCES FULL STAFFING OF RANCHITA FIRE STATION

By Miriam Raftery

February 21, 2019 (Ranchita) – For years, residents of Ranchita, a small town between Borrego Springs and Julian, have complained about prolonged periods of time when their fire station was unstaffed, leaving their community without rapid response to medical emergencies and fires. 

But now, just as area residents prepare to go to the polls in March to vote on a ballot initiative to determine the fate of the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Department, the County Fire Authority and Cal Fire have announced that they have upgraded staffing at the Ranchita Fire Station to permanent full-time staffing and are in the process of boosting paramedic services.  

PROPERTY OWNERS WITH RAIN DAMAGE ASKED TO COMPLETE SURVEY; RESULTS COULD DETERMINE REGION'S ELIGIBILITY FOR DISASTER FUNDS

 

 

By Yvette Urrea Moe, County of San Diego Communications Office

Photo:  flooding around Quarry Road in Spring Valley

February 19, 2019 (San Diego) - If your property sustained damage during the storms that struck the week of Valentine’s Day, the County would like your help estimating the cost for our region.

The cold winter storms brought record-setting rainfall, flooding and high winds to San Diego County. If your property or small business was damaged during the Valentine’s Day storm, the County Office of Emergency Services is asking you to complete a short damage survey form that will assist in collecting information and associated costs.

HEAVY SNOW, ROAD CLOSURES IN MOUNTAINS





East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

Photo:  Julian, courtesy of San Diego Sheriff

February 17, 2019 (San Diego's East County) -- Heavy snow is blanketing San Diego's mountains tonight, with 8 to 10 inches of snow possible at higher elevations and lighter snow down as low as 2,500 feet in elevation.  The following road closures are in effect, per CHP:

  • State Route 79 is closed from mile marker 7 south of Cuyamaca Lake to State Route 78 in Julian indefinitely.
  • Chains are required on Sunrise Highway. No vehicles will be allowed north on Sunrie HIghway from Olde Highway 80, just north of I-8.

In addition, the Sheriff urges visitors not to drive to Julian tonight due to hazardous winter storm conditions.

FURLOUGHED FEDERAL FIREFIGHTER REINVENTS THE DAILY GRIND

 

 

By Logan Knight  

February 14, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) -- “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a question virtually every American child is asked from the time he or she begins talking. They are continually asked this question until adulthood, when the question becomes, What do you do for a living?”

OUTAGES AND ROAD CLOSURES

A flash flood warning is in effect countywide through 1:15 p.m. Flash flooding, heavy rains and high winds .are causing power outages and road closures across our region including:

  • Highway 94 is closed at Honey Springs Rd. due to flooding.
  • Mud/rocks on Lyons Valley Rd. in Jamul.
  • Summit Drive in La Mesa is closed at the 4400 block due to power lines down
  • 13th St. and Maple are closed in Ramona between just north of Hwy 67 and Walnut St. due to flooding.
  • Vallecitos School Rd. is closed due to flooding.
  • Power lines are down on Hwy 78 near San Pasqual cemetery
  • Power lines are down on Hwy 67 near Mt. Woodson.
  • Montezuma Valley Rd. in Borrego is closed from Palm Canyon to the 6 mile marker due to rock slides covering both lanes
  • Pine Valley’s Manzanita Drive from Lilac Dr. to Lakeview Dr. is closed.

PRESCRIBED FIRE BURNS PLANNED AT CUYAMACA RANCHO STATE PARK IN SAN DIEGO'S EAST COUNTY

 

 

Source:  California State Parks

February 12, 2019 (San Diego's East County) - -The California Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the California Department of Forestry and Fire protection (CAL FIRE) are planning a prescribed burn in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park between January 29, 2019 and March 15, 2019.

WINTER STORM WARNING: SNOW DOWN TO 2500 FEET TONIGHT

East County News Service

February 4, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning in effect now through 4 a.m. Wednesday for heavy snow in the mountains of San Diego’s East County. 

The snow level could dip down to 2500 to 3500 feet, with six to 12 inches of snow above 4500 to 5000 feet.

JEROME’S DONATES RECLINERS TO JULIAN CUYAMACA VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPT.

 

 

East County News Service

January 31, 2019 (Julian) – Jeromes Furniture Warehouse surprised Julian's & Cuyamaca's firefighters with five brand new reclining chairs for the lounge at Station #56. Now after fighting fighters and saving lives, firefighters can put up their boots and relax in comfort.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES SENT TO CONTROLLED BURN IN RANCHO CUYAMACA STATE PARK

 

 

East County News Service 

January 28, 2019 5:10 p.m. (Cuyamaca) -- A controlled burn in Rancho Cuyamaca State Park has jumped out of control, NBC 7 reports. Cal Fire has not confirmed this but the Cal Fire Twitter feed states that Cal Fire is assisting State Parks with this burn.

The burn began in the 13000 block of Highway 79 and is currently burning near I-8 east at Japatul Valley. 

JULIAN FIREFIGHTERS HOST SPAGHETTI DINNER FOR COMMUNITY, COLLECT FOOD DONATIONS FOR THE HUNGRY

“This is your house.” -- Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Mike Van Bibber

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Editor Miriam Raftery also contributed to this report

January 24, 2019 (Julian) –“We’re rising from the ashes and we will emerge like the Phoenix, even better than before we were,” Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Mike Van Bibber told a crowd of some 75 citizens at a spaghetti dinner held Sunday in the main stationhouse on Highway79.

The mood was buoyant, despite storm clouds still looming over the district. A special election to save the county’s last volunteer fire department is slated for March, after residents gathered enough signatures to put the decision on the ballot and temporarily block takeover by the County Fire Department run by Cal-Fire.

HEARTLAND FIRE SEEKS PARAMEDIC/FIREFIGHTER RECRUITS

 

 

Source: Heartland Fire & Rescue

January 24, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) -- Heartland Fire & Rescue is currently recruiting for the position of Paramedic/Firefighter. The agencies is looking for individuals who are just starting off their career or are looking for a lateral opportunity.

Pages