Wildfire News

EARTHQUAKE EARLY WARNING APP NOW AVAILABLE

By Miriam Raftery

November 30, 2019 (San Diego) – An earthquake early warning is now available to the pubic in California through the Berkeley Seismology Lab.  MyShake collects motion data from your phone’s sensors and uses a patented neural network to determine whether that motion fits the model of an earthquake.

Through MyShake, you can have earthquake information at your fingertips, see damage reports shared by citizen scientists like you, and help build a global seismic network.  Click here to download theMyShake  app from Apple or the Google Play store.  

AFTER RULING BY JUDGE, COUNTY REMOVES ALL EQUIPMENT FROM JULIAN FIRE STATION 56, INCLUDING FIRE ENGINES, AMBULANCE AND WATER TENDER

Safety concerns raised; court ruling by Judge Randa Trapp could be death knell to Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

November 20, 2019 (Julian) -- With a stroke of a gavel, San Diego Superior Court Judge Randa Trapp on Friday morning dashed hopes of volunteers from the former Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District that the district will be resurrected anytime soon.

Judge Trapp denied the motion filed by JCFPD’s attorney Cory Briggs last April 10, which sought to invalidate the dissolution of the volunteer fire and medical protection district by the San Diego Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCO). Briggs filed the motion to appeal the afternoon after LAFCO’s vote.

Within hours of Trapp’s decision Friday, despite a new appeal of Friday's judgement filed by Briggs, the County Fire Authority operated by CALFIRE raided Julian Fire Station 56, towing away or hauling off all remaining firefighting equipment of the JCFPD including fire engines and ambulances. A broker has reportedly indicated that at least some of the equipment is being put up for sale, instead of being either held for the JCFPD in case of a win on appeal, or turned over to the CFA/CALFIRE to utilize to protect Julian.

Briggs called the action a “raid.”  Some Julian residents cried, while others voiced anger.

The action leaves Julian entirely dependent upon the CFA/CAL FIRE for protection, despite grave concerns raised by many residents over serious gaps in equipment and coverage since the JCFPD was dissolved.

ALPINE FIRE CHIEF BILL PASKLE ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT

Source: Alpine Fire Dept.

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Nov. 26, 2019 (Alpine) The Alpine Fire Protection District (AFPD) has announced the retirement of fire chief, Bill F. Paskle, effective Dec. 30.

At their meeting, held on Nov. 19, Paskle submitted a letter to the board of directors that board president Jim Easterling read aloud during the meeting and thanked the fire chief for his years of service to the district.

EXPLOSIVE CAVE FIRE THREATENS HOMES IN SANTA BARBARA

By Miriam Raftery

November 25, 2019 (Santa Barbara) – The fast-moving #CaveFire that started shortly after 4  p.m. along Highway 154 in the Los Padres National Forest near Painted Cave has scorched over 3,100 acres, forcing evacutions. Homes are threatened and the fire is encroaching northern portions of the city of Santa Barbara and Goleta tonight, while many are without power due to a proactive utility shut-off.

View a map of the evacuation zone here:  https://sbcoem.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=ff627ef192de40b6b19c7c2718f59028

CAL FIRE FIREFIGHTERS ENDORSE STEVE VAUS FOR SUPERVISOR IN DISTRICT 2



 

East County News Service

November 23, 2019 (San Diego) – The CAL FIRE firefighters union has endorsed Poway Mayor Steve Vaus for Supervisor.

“We recognize that Steve has a proven ability to bring people together to get things done. Most importantly, he truly cares about helping the hard-working men and women protecting our community,” says Patrick Walker, Vice President of CAL FIRE Local #2881 10th district.

SIRENS, TEXTS, EVEN CHURCH BELLS: CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE ALERTS AND EVACUATIONS STILL AD HOC

By Julie Cart, CALmatters

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

Photo:  Residents evacuating from the Holy Fire near Lake Elsinore in 2018. Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG

November 21, 2019 (San Diego's East County) - When a fast-moving wildfire marched toward the town of Paradise more than a year ago, few who lived there were aware of it. Even though the community used the CodeRED automated emergency warning system, less than 40% of residents subscribed to the alerts.

“GOT POWER” PROGRAM ON GENERATORS AND BACK-UP POWER OPTIONS SPARKS INTEREST IN ALPINE

By Chris Whipple
 
Photo:   Alpine residents Sally and Brian Shepherd speaking with Robyn Herrick and Israel Juarez of SDGE.
 
November 21, 2019 (Alpine) -- East County residents braved the rain Monday evening to attend a community presentation at the Alpine Library titled, "Got Power?"  Representatives from KAMPS Propane, SDG&E, and Clayco Electric Inc. Solar answered questions about the Public Safety Power Shutoff program in East County during Santa Ana, high-wind conditions.  Chris Whipple, a resident of Flinn Springs, also made a brief presentation about back-up power plans that allow her to use her medical CPAP equipment when the power is out.   

GOVERNOR PROPOSES BOND TO FUND BACKUP GENERATORS AND SOLAR PANELS TO KEEP SCHOOLS OPEN DURING POWER OUTAGE

East County News Service

November 21, 2019 (Sacramento) – Schools have been hard hit statewide by utility companies’ repeated power outages intended to prevent lines from sparking wildfires—including rural and mountain school districts in San Diego’s East County. Today, Governor Gavin Newsom proposed steps to remedy the problems, including calling for a $15 billion bond to fund back-up generators and solar panels to keep schools open during unforeseen power outages, as well as other steps.

 

Future proposals may include rethinking the traditional school calendar and building in makeup days to deal with not only natural disasters but unplanned power outages, according to a press release issued today by the Calif. Dept. of Education.

RED FLAG WARNING SUNDAY, BUT RAIN IS ON THE WAY

East County News Service

November 16, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) -- The San Diego National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for Sunday, Nov. 17 from 1 a.m. to 6 p.m.  for inland valleys and foothills.  Winds of 20-30 mph are forecast, with gusts up to 50 mph and humidity around 10%. 

Rain is possibly by Tuesday, however, with an increasing likelihood of rain Wednesday through Friday.

CA PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION OPENS INVESTIGATION INTO POWER OUTAGES

By Miriam Raftery
 
November 14, 2019 (San Francisco) --  The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Wednesday opened an investigation to examine recent Public Safety Power Shut-off (PSPS) events and ensure utilities are held accountable for their actions.  
 
The electric utilities under investigation are Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), Liberty Utilities/CalPeco Electric, Bear Valley Electric Service, and Pacific Power, a division of PacifiCorp. In September and October 2019, the state’s investor-owned electric utilities, notably PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E, proactively de-energized power lines during high wildfire danger weather conditions to reduce the risk of utility infrastructure starting wildfires. 

GOT POWER? BE PREPARED! FORUM ON GENERATORS NOV. 19 IN ALPINE

East County News Service
 
November 8, 2019 (Alpine) – The Alpine Library will host a forum on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 5:30 p.m. for you to learn more about generators, solar battery backup and other residential emergency power options.
 
Local businesses including SDG&E, Global Power, and Kamp’s Propane will be on hand to answer your questions.
 
The library is located at 1752 Alpine Blvd. in Alpine.

CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST ISSUES NEW FIRE RESTRICTIONS

East County News Service

November 7, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – Due to elevated fire danger, Cleveland National Forest has issued additional fire restrictions in effect from October 30, 2019 through January 1, 2020 for emergency resource protection and public safety. These are in addition to elevated fire restrictions already put into effect due to other conditions including high temperatures and high winds.

SUPERVISOR DIANNE JACOB LISTENS TO COMMUNITY CONCERNS IN JULIAN

Emergency fire and medical protection, SDG&E planned outages top list of concerns

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Miriam Raftery, Editor, contributed to this report

View video of townhall: https://tinyurl.com/JacobsJulianTownHall

Photo, left, by Paul Kruze:  Supervisor Dianne Jacob and SDG&E Vice President Eugene "Mitch" Mitchell fielded audience questions.

November 7, 2019 (Julian) -- Supervisor Dianne Jacob ventured into a potential firestorm when she held a scheduled town hall forum at the Julian Town Hall on October 25th in downtown Julian. Jacob’s town hall coincided with the anniversary week for the infamous 2003 Cedar Fire and 2007 Witch Creek firestorms which devastated the eastern San Diego backcountry. Up to then, both were the two worst wildfires in California history.

But the irony didn’t stop there. Moments before the town hall was set to begin, word reached the venue that a brush fire erupted near Witch Creek between Ramona and Julian. This prompted County Fire Authority/Cal Fire Chief Tony Mecham to bolt out of the town hall where he was slated to speak in order to respond to the fast-moving fire.

“We are all on edge,” acknowledged Jacob, who chairs the county’s Unified Fire Council and outlined major investments made by the county to improve fire safety. “But we are better prepared than ever before.”

That contention, however, was disputed by the president of the former Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFD)'s  board of directors, as multiple fire engines and an ambulance roared past the town hall en route to the Sawday Fire in Ramona.

PERSONAL DISASTER PLANS TO BE MAILED TO RESIDENTS IN AREAS OF SEVERE FIRE RISK

By Yvette Urrea Moe, County of San Diego Communications Office

Photo:  A new updated Personal Disaster Plan is available for San Diego County residents to learn what to do before, during and after a disaster.

October 21, 2019 (San Diego) - Do you have a plan if there’s a wildfire? Or any emergency? The County of San Diego is mailing a Personal Disaster Plan to residents who live in the areas of highest fire danger in our community. Read it when you get it, discuss it with your family, complete it and practice it.

TRUMP THREATENS TO END FEDERAL AID TO CALIFORNIA TO FIGHT WILDFIRES—AFTER OFFERING RUSSIA HELP TO STOP WILDFIRES IN SIBERIA

Critics accuse President of putting partisan politics above saving lives and aiding disaster victims

By Miriam Raftery

Updated 9 p.m. with comments from Alpine Fire Chief Paskle

 

Photo screenshot off NBC video:  Easy Fire started near the Ronald Reagan Valley in Simi Valley and threatened homes in Ventura County

 

November 4, 2019 (San Diego) – Days after California Governor Gavin Newsom praised the federal government for its rapid response to catastrophic wildfires and power outages affecting millions of our state’s residents, President Donald Trump on Sunday threatened to cut off all future federal funding to California.  

MERCY AIR CELEBRATES 30TH ANNIVERSARY AS A FLYING EMERGENCY ROOM

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Photo, left:  Laura Elliott and Russell Haight.

November 3, 2019 (El Cajon) -- Laura Elliott and Russell Haight work in an emergency room. A flying one. Both are employed by Mercy Air, owned by Air Methods, an air ambulance provider that works out of El Cajon’s Gillespie Field as well as other locations.

PROGRESS MADE FIGHTING CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES

By Miriam Raftery

October 31, 2019 (San Diego) – As Santa Ana winds begin to diminish, firefighters are making progress against major wildfires burning across California, as well as a small brush fire on Otay Mountain  that started in Mexico and burned into the U.S. Here are updates on fires statewide as of 3:30 p.m. Friday, with links to incident pages where available:

PG&E TO CREDIT RATEPAYERS FOR OUTAGE, BUT SDG&E REFUSES AS THOUSANDS HERE LEFT POWERLESS

By Miriam Raftery

October 31, 2019 (San Diego) – A day after Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the California Public Utilities Commission to create tough new rules limiting mass outages by utilities seeking to limit their liability for fires and mandating compensation for ratepayers,  PG&E announced it will credit its ratepayers for blackouts, Newsom announced.  But San Diego Gas & Electric is refusing to do the same.

In respond to East County Magazine’s inquiry,  SDG&E communications manager Wes Jones responded yesterday, ““SDG&E is not processing any bill credits. SDG&E abides by rules set by the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates how we operate. Per that process, SDG&E is not liable for circumstances beyond our control, including weather conditions like those we have been experiencing this month. SDG&E has a legal obligation to abide by tariffs, or rules, that prevent payment for damages, such as food spoilage.”

FIRES IMPERIAL SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA COMMUNITIES

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Easy Fire threatens Reagan Library in Simi Valley; screenshot ABC 7

October 30, 2019 (San Diego) – Much of Southern California is in flames, with several new fires erupting today that have shut down major freeways.  Hurricane-force winds have also toppled over big rigs and trees.  Here are brief updates on existing and new fires:

REPORTER OFFERS TIPS FOR WHAT TO DO DURING OUTAGES AND WILDFIRES

By Leslie Wolf Branscomb
 
October 30, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) - I hate to have to post this again, but here is my advice to all living in areas that might have fires in this next week. Based on personal experience (having been evacuated) and years covering fires for the Union-Tribune. 

CAL FIRE BEEFS UP STAFFING DURING SANTA ANA WINDS

East County News Service
 
Agency brings in 150 out of state engines to California, adds 15 engines in San Diego County
 
October 30, 2019 (San Diego) –  Cal Fire/San Diego County Fire Authority has announced preparations being taken to prepare for extreme Santa Ana winds impacting most of Southern California over the next two or three days. 

GOVERNOR NEWSOM ASKS CPUC TO REFORM POWER SHUT-OFF RULES, PENALIZE UTILITIES FOR EXCESSIVE OUTAGES AND MANDATE COMPENSATION FOR IMPACTED RATEPAYERS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Governor Newsom met with officials and emergency responders after touring Getty Fire area in Los Angeles yesterday

October 29, 2019 (Sacramento) –San Diego rural and mountain residents weary of repeated utility-led Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) by SDG&E to prevent wildfires had complaints fall on deaf ears during Governor Jerry Brown’s administration.

By contrast, Governor Gavin Newsom has just issued a series of announced actions aimed at restricting widespread intentional outages and penalizing utilities that violate new rules that Newsom aims to impose.  In addition, Newsom called for an end to charging ratepayers during planned outages and approved funds to help compensate those left without power for losses incurred.

He also made clear that he expects the California Public Utilities Commission to take strong actions. The new Governor has appointed two new CPUC commissioners – and made clear at a press conference that he expects to see reforms, or more changes  will be made.

SDG&E WARNS OF NEW OUTAGES AS SANTA ANA WINDS ARE SET TO RETURN

By Miriam Raftery

October 28 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – With the strongest Santa Ana winds of the season forecast Tuesday through Thursday,  San Diego Gas & Electric is warning over 32,000 customers that the utility may proactively shut off power to many communities to prevent lines from sparking fires, including some areas not previously impacted by outages.  The outages could begin late Tuesday or early Wednesday and last as late as Friday evening, according to SDG&E.

The communities that may lose power are:

  • Alpine
  • Boulevard
  • Campo
  • Descanso
  • Dulzura
  • El Cajon (portions of)
  • Encinitas (portions of)
  • Escondido (portions of)
  • Jacumba
  • Jamul (portions of)
  • Julian
  • Lakeside (portions of)
  • Mount Laguna
  • Pala
  • Palomar Mountain
  • Pauma Valley
  • Pine Valley
  • Potrero
  • Poway
  • Ramona
  • Ranchita
  • Rancho Santa Fe (portions of)
  • San Clemente (portions of)
  • San Juan Capistrano (portions of)
  • Santa Ysabel
  • Valley Center (portions of)
  • Warner Springs

Steps to prepare for an outage

RED FLAG WARNING: STRONGEST SANTA WINDS THIS SEASON

East County Wildfire & Emergency Aerts

October 28, 2019  (San Diego) --- The National Weather Service has issued a red flag alert, warning of extremely critical fire weather conditions arriving Tuesday night and continuing through Thursday afernoon.  This has potential to be the strongest Santa Ana wind event so far this season, the NWS predicts.

SAWDAY FIRE IN RAMONA CAUSED BY TRAILER FIRE

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: ECM news partner 10 News

October 28, 2019 (Ramona) – The Sawday Fire which began Friday morning and scorched 97 acres was caused by a parked trailer that caught fire, Cal Fire reports. It is not yet known what caused the trailer to ignite along Sawday Truck Trail near Littlepage Road.

GETTY FIRE ERUPTS ALONG 405 FREEWAY IN L.A.: HOMES BURN, THOUSANDS EVACUATED INCLUDING UCLA

By Miriam Raftery

October 28, 2019 (Los Angeles) – The fast-moving #GettyFire that erupted overnight near the famous Getty art museum has shut down the 405 freeway in Los Angeles.  Several homes have burned and thousands are threatened. Mandatory evacuations have been issued as far south as Pacific Palisades, affecting 10,000 commercial and residential structures as well as the University of California, Davis campus, CBS 8 reports.

Fire officials described the evacuation zone s a box bounded by Mulholland Drive on the north side, the 405 on the east, Sunset Boulevard on the south and Temescal Canyon Road on the west. A broader evacuation warning area extends north to Topanga and west to Malibu.

RECORD WINDS WHIP DEVASTATING WILDFIRES FROM CAILFORNIA’S WINE COUNTRY TO THE COAST

By Miriam Raftery, East County Magazine

Photo, left, via CalTrans:  Glencove Fire in Vallejo shut down the Carquinez bridge for several hours

 

October 27, 2019 (San Diego) – Governor Gavin Newsom today declared a statewide emergency as wildfires whipped by hurricane-force gusts forced hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate. As apocalyptic images emerged, the danger for those caught in the paths of the infernos deepened due to intentional power shut-offs by PG&E that left over 2 million Californians in the dark.

“We area deploying every resource available,” Governor Newsom announced at a press conference, also urging everyone in evacuation zones to heed warnings from offficials and first responders.

CALIFORNIA'S WORSENING WILDFIRES, EXPLAINED

By Julie Cart and Judy Lin, Calmatters

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

Photo by Naveen Nkadalaveni, Wikimedia Commons

October 27, 2019 (San Diego's East County) - Introduction:  if it seems that wildfires are burning nearly all the time these days, that there’s no longer a definable fire season in California, you’re right. Fourteen of the 20 most destructive fires in state history have occurred since 2007, and California has 78 more annual “fire days” now than it had 50 years ago.

READER’S EDITORIAL: TROUBLING QUESTIONS OVER FIRES IN LAKESIDE

By Barry A. Treahy, Lakeside resident and retired firefighter 

 

October 27, 2019 (Lakeside) -- My neighbors in El Monte Valley, Blossom Valley, Lakeside and Barona:

 

Emergency medical and fire protection has been in the news in California this year as it also was in the past.  

DEVASTATING WILDFIRES IN MEXICO CLAIM LIVES, FORCE MASS EVACUATIONS

 

Update October 26:  30 homes have burned in Rosarito, where a man and his dog were found dead after their home burned, Mexico News Daily reports. Over 70 homes have now burned in Tecate. The National Forestry Commission (Conafor) had contained only 35% of the estimated 50 fires raging in Mexico.

By Miriam Raftery

“People had to hike out through the mountains to save their lives,” – Tecate resident Veronica Lavarello

October 25, 2019 (Tecate, Mexico) – Fires burning in Mexico have displaced at least 1,645 people forced to evacuate their homes. The blazes have killed three people, Associated Press Reports. Deaths include a 12-year-old girl and a 19-year-old woman, the Mexican new site Radar Tecate reports.  Antonio Rosquillas, director of Baja California Civil Protection, indicates two others are injured. In Rosarito, where 30 homes have burned, a man died in a structure fire along with his dog, Mexico News Daily reports.

Tecate Mayor Zulema Adams announced that at least 54 homes  have been destroyed and 100 have been damaged.

One of the fires shut down the coastal highway north of Ensenada for several hours today. A fire in the Tecate region burned over 35,000 acres. Schools in Tijuana, Tecata and Rosarito were all ordered closed today due to heavy smoke.

Smoke has been visible on the northern side of the international border but thus far the blazes are confined to Mexico.

Mexico’s president has declared a state of emergency, as dozens of families remain in shelters.  Tonight, the intensity of Santa Ana winds has diminished, aiding firefighters battling the blazes.

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