Wildfire News

BIG RIG IN FLAMES DAMAGES BRIDGE, SHUTS DOWN I-8 NEAR PINE VALLEY CHECKPOINT

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via The Mountain Community on Facebook, posted by Laura Palmer Vikara

Update May 13, 2021 -- The California Highway Patrol reports that the  driver was trapped in the vehicle and died. The body of a second male victim as found later in the afternoon. Both of their identities are unknown. Around 7:48 p.m. the driver hauling a semi-trailer (big rig) lost control and struck the center divider, hit a bridge rail and rolled down an embankment off I-8 east of Sunrise Highway, where the truck became engulfed in flames. CHP, Border Patrol and Cal Fire arrived shortly after the crash. It is unknown what caused the accident and whether the victims wore seatbelts. CHP asks anyone who witnessed this crash to call the CHP in El Cajon at (619)401-2000.

 

May 12, 2021 (Pine Valley) – Westbound Interstate 8 is shutdown from Buckman Springs Road to Sunrise Highway due to a big rig truck that caught fire, crashed and damaged a bridge. Traffic is being diverted onto Old Highway 80.

According to the CHP Incidents page, the accident occurred near the Border Patrol Checkpoint, which is three miles east of Pine Valley.  Damage to 30 feet of metal and concrete on the bridge is reported.


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EVACUATION ADVISORY LIFTED FOR COCHES FIRE

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

Photo, left, taken by John Margolin from his home near the #CochesFire.

Update 5:35 p.m.:  The evacuation advisory has been lifted and the evacuation center at W.D. Hall Elementary has been closed.

Update 5:10 p.m.:  Cal Fire reports the fire's forward spread has been stopped at 30 acres; it is 5 percent contained. No structures have been damaged or destroyed.

 

May 12, 2021 (Lakeside) – The #CochesFire that started  along I-8 east, south of Los Coches Road in Lakeside, has grown to 30 acres.  Evacuation warnings have been issued for the area and anyone wishing to evacuate can go to WD Hall Elementary School at 1376 Pepper Drive in El Cajon.  There are no mandatory evacuation orders as of 4:40 p.m.

The fire is burning at a moderate rate of spread and moving toward the Walmart and Valleyview Truck Trail.  Air tankers, helicopters and multiple fire engine are battling the blaze.

The right lane of I-8 is blocked by the brush fire and traffic is backed up to state route 67/Magnolia exit. Expect delays of up to a half hour, KUSI reports.


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FIRE ON I-8 NEAR LAKESIDE

UPDATE 5:39 P.M.:  The Evacuation Warning for the Coches Fire has beeen lifted. The Temporary Evacuation Point at W.D. Hall Elementary School is being closed.

UPDATE 4:59 P.M.:  Fire remains at 30 acres, 5% contained.  No structures damaged or destroyed.

4:35 P.M.:  Fire is 30 acres spreading east along I-8 towards Los Coches Road.  Evacuation warnings:  anyone wishing to evacuate can go to WD Hall Elementary.  No evacuation orders at this time.

4:32 P.M.:  Fire is 25 acres spreading east along I-8 towards Los Coches Road.  Evacuation warning for WD Hall Elementary.  No evacuation orders at this time.

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

May 12, 2021 (Lakeside) -- Cal Fire is at the scene with cooperators of a vegetation fire along I-8, west of Los Coches Road in the Lakeside area. Four acres, moderate rate of spread. The right lane is closed on eastbound I-8 east of Greenfield.

To receive free East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts via email, sign up at the top right side of our homepage.  You can also follow EastCountyAlert on Twitter for brief text messages on your mobile phone. We thank the Grossmont Healthcare District for their sponsorship of our alerts.


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FUNDRAISERS PLANNED TO HELP VALENZUELA FAMLY THAT LOST HOME IN SOUTHERN FIRE

East County News Service

May 7, 2021 (San Diego's East County) - The Southern Fire burned some 5200 acres May 1st through 3rd, forcing evacuations and destroying three structures, including Eduardo (Eddie) and Priscilla Valenzuela’s ranch home near Butterfield Ranch


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FIRES BROKE OUT IN SANTEE ON CINCO DE MAYO

Photos and story by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Pictured Santee Fire Department's Deputy Fire Chief Justin Matsushita) 

May 5, 2021 (Santee) Two fires broke out in Santee today, the afternoon of Cinco de Mayo. Santee Fire Department’s  Deputy Fire Chief Justin Matsushita (photo), interviewed near the corners of Meadow Way and Riverview Parkway near the San Diego River, said his department got a call on the riverbed fire at 1:10 p.m. and had the fire extinguished in 45 minutes.


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2 New Fires in Mexico, South of Dulzura, in/near Cottonwood Creek

 
 
By Jonathan Goetz; photos by Henri Migala
 
May 2, 2021 (Dulzura) -- Two new small fires are burning in/near Cottonwood Creek in Mexico, south of Dulzura.
 
Calfire, Border Patrol, and ECM reporter Henri Migala are at the scene on the U.S. side of border monitoring the situation.
 
There are no immediate threat to structures as of 4:30 p.m.
 
Gusty winds are blowing East by Northeast 70 degrees, with the fires heading slowly towards Tecate Peak.
 
 
Update: ECM reporter Henri Migala sent additiional information later via e-mail:

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SOUTHERN FIRE, EAST OF JULIAN, FORCES EVACUATIONS

 

Update May 3, 2021 7 p.m. All evacuation orders, evacuation warnings, and road closures related to the Southern Fire have been lifted.

Update May 2, 2021 5:50 p.m.  The American Red Cross is providing hotel rooms for persons evacuated from the Southern Fire.  The hotel rooms are located in El Centro, CA.  If you are in need of a hotel room due to being evacuated, contact the American Red Cross at (571) 595-7910.

Update May 2, 2021 3:34 p.m.  The #SouthernFire has swelled to 5,184 acres per Cal Fire. Firefighters are making good progress and the blaze is now 25% contained.

Update May 2, 2021 2 p.m. p.m.  County Fire reports that  aircraft and Copter 129 are on scene; a helitanker and a second copter are en route. Tankers are unable to drop due to the wind. Fire is burning southwest of the Butterfield community. The County has issued a smoke advisory, noting that smoke is blowing southeast of the fire, into Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Update May 2, 2021 8:45 a..m.  The Southern Fire is apprxoimately 2900 acres and 0% contained, per Cal Fire San Diego Overnight, strong winds of 40-60 mph were observed; firefighers continue working to build a containment line. Animals evacuated can be sheltered at Vallecito County Park, 37349 Great Southern Overland Stage Route.  

 

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

Photo via SDG&E webcam

May 1, 2021 (Shelter Valley) -- A fire near Agua Caliente State Park, the "Southern Fire" in the community of Mason Valley, has burned 1,200 acres in two hours late today. (Note, an earlier version of this article stated the fire was in the vicinity of Shelter Valley, based on incorrection information from the County Office of Emergency Services)

Cal Fire reports that three structures have been destroyed. Around 500 people have been evacuated from Butterfield Ranch Campground.

An evacuation center has been set up at Agua Caliente County Park at 39555 Great Southern Overland Stage Route, Julian, CA 92036.

So Cal Air Ops reports that tankers were dispatched but are unable to drop fire retardant due to strong winds.

Parts of Great Overland Stage Route (S-2) may be closed in both directions.  State Parks is manning a hard closure of S-2 at mile marker 30.
 
If you are asked to evacuate by fire or law enforcement, please do so immediately. Part of the fire was burning down a hill, misleadingly reducing the amount of smoke.

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CHIEF’S CORNER: NATIONAL PUBLIC SAFETY 911 DISPATCHERS WEEK

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
 
April 13, 2021 (San Diego) -- The National Public Safety Dispatchers Week is celebrated every second week of April each year. This week April 11-17, 2021 aims to honor all 911 Fire/Police/Paramedic Dispatchers & Staff whose work is involved in public safety communication. This weeklong event gives recognition and expresses gratitude to all those people dedicated to saving the lives of the people.
 
Understanding the Job of a 911 Dispatcher
Most of the time, people have no idea how hard the job of emergency communicators is. They carry a great responsibility because they are the first line of hope or defense for those people in need. They are the first ones to get in contact with people who are in danger. If you still have not fully realized that yet, then it is all the more reason for you to celebrate this week.

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AIRCRAFT DISPATCHED AFTER CONTROLLED BURN AT CUYAMACA RANCHO STATE PARK REPORTEDLY JUMPS CONTAINMENT LINE

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

Photo via SDG&E webcam

April 12, 2021 (Cuyamaca) – A controlled burn has reportedly jumped a containment line  near Pasa Picacho Campground in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, scanner traffic and multiple sources indicate. The blaze, now dubbed the #PasoFire, has burned 15-20 acres outside the ontrol line and is fueled by a westerly wind.

Multiple air tankers and helicopters have been requested and at least two aircraft are on scene as of 4:50 p.m.


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GOVERNOR NEWSOM, LEGISLATIVE LEADERS ANNOUNCE EARLY BUDGET ACTION FOR WILDFIRE PREVENTION

Source: Governor’s Office
 
April 8, 2021 (Sacramento) -- Governor Gavin Newsom, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) today announced a $536 million funding plan to help improve California’s resilience to wildfires. They released the following statement:

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FIREFIGHTERS CONTAIN AUTO WRECKING YARD FIRE

By Miriam Raftery

(Photo courtesy of San Miguel Fire District) 

April 3, 2021 (Spring Valley ) --  Crews from San Miguel Fire Department, Heartland Fire and San Diego Fire & Rescue successfully controlled a fast moving commercial fire on Jamacha Road in Spring Valley on Thursday.

According to Heartland Fire in a post on Instragram, Initial arriving units encountered heavy fire and smoke from behind an auto wrecking and recycling facility. The smoke column was pushed by a strong west wind which produced an immediate threat to exposures including businesses and an apartment complex.


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FIRE AND ROAD CLOSURE ON JAMACHA ROAD IN SPRING VALLEY ONE MILE EAST OF CA-125

Photo by Miriam Raftery
 
April 1, 2021 (Spring Valley) -- A structural fire in a commercial building at 9246 Jamacha Rd. in Spring Valley has resulted in a road closure one mile east of CA-125, on Jamacha Rd. between Grand Ave. and Presioca St.
 
The facility has tires that are burning, putting out fumes from burning rubber.
 
Use caution and avoid the area.
 
Click "Read more" for an ECM exclusive photo and map.

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COUNTY LAB, FIRE STATIONS TO BENEFIT FROM BACKUP POWER SUPPLY FUNDS

By Donnie Ryan, County of San Diego Communications Office

March 4, 2021 (San Diego) - The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to ratify the acceptance of fiscal year 2020-2021 state community power resiliency funds, a key step in helping to improve backup energy sources for essential facilities and communications equipment as part of emergency preparedness efforts in the county.

Launched Oct. 25, 2019, by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Local Government Public Safety Power Shutoff Resiliency Program provided state funding to help mitigate the effects of utility-initiated public safety power shutoffs. The name of the program was changed to “Community Power Resiliency” for the current fiscal year.


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SANTEE FIRE DEPARTMENT NEW ISO RATING IS NOW IN EFFECT AND COULD LOWER YOUR INSURANCE RATES

Source:  City of Santee

March 2, 2021 (Santee) - The City of Santee announced that after a thorough Insurance Services Office (ISO) evaluation, the Santee Fire Department has achieved a Class 1 Public Protection Classification rating, which is the highest level of recognition available from the Insurance Services Office.

The top rating places Santee amongst the ranks of only 38 fire departments in California and 393 departments nationwide that have earned the distinction. The new rating officially went into effect March 1, 2021.

Home and business owners are encouraged to contact their insurance providers after March 1st to see how the Class 1 rating affects their respective insurance rates.


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LAW FIRMS SOLICITING FIREFIGHTERS TO JOIN FIREFIGHTING FOAM PFAS/PFOS LAWSUIT

 

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

Photo: Creative Commons image by SA

Feb. 23, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – Law firms are soliciting former and current firefighters to file suits or share in settlements related to health issues caused by exposure to toxic PFAS/PFOS chemicals in the line of duty. Others impacted by these “forever” chemicals in firefighting foam or other products may also be eligible for compensation.  

This solicitation stems out of a settlement the Dupont Company and its spinoff business, Chemours, et al, that have agreed to cover legal disputes for pollution and environmental liabilities from man-made chemicals related to increased risks of cancer and other health problems, according to ABC News. For more information on the settlement visit https://firefoamsettlement.com/ 

PFAS/PFOS continue to be used in firefighting foams used to fight fires at airports, military bases and industrial sites, though not brush fires.  Some firefighting protective gear has also exposed firefighters to these dangerous chemicals. 


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FIREFIGHTERS SAVE HOMES, HALT CAMPO FIRE IN SPRING VALLEY

Story and photos by Josh Stotler

January 20, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – At 12:42 pm today, firefighters were called to the corner of Campo Road and CR17 for a wind driven brush fire that immediately threatened homes and property across from Skyline Church near the boundary of Spring Valley and Rancho San Diego.


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BRUSH FIRE THREATENS HOMES IN RANCHO SAN DIEGO

Update 3:40 p.m.:  Forward spread of the fire has been stopped at 15 acres, per Cal Fire.

January 20, 2021 (Rancho San Diego) -- The #CampoFire in Rancho San Diego poses an immediate structure threat along Avenida Roberta x Calle Los Arboles in the Rancho San Diego neighborhood in unincorporated El Cajon, Cal Fire reports. Campo Fire was reported just before 12:45 p.m. in an area near Jamacha Road and Campo Road

Evacuate if in the area or if you feel threatened. A temporary evacuation point for the #CampoFire is at the Edwards Cinema parking lot at 2951 Jamacha Rd.

The fire has charred about five acres as of 1:15 p.m.

Viewl life feed courtesy of ECM news partner 10 News: https://www.pscp.tv/10News/1lDxLpQynmyxm


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NEW RANCHO HELIX DE ORO FIRE SAFE COUNCIL OFFERS FIRE-SAFE TIPS

By Miriam Raftery

January 14, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) --Under the authority of the Fire Safe Council of San Diego County, the Rancho Helix De Oro is a newly formed fire safe council dedicated to educating and preparing our community in order to avoid devastating fires. The group has created an educational fire-safe flyer  (click link to view flyer) with information including tips for fire safety, an evacuation map, who to call during an emergency, and how to get emergency notification for the communities of Rancho San Diego, Mt. Helix and Casa de Oro.

The new group was formed with support from then-County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, the Grossmont-Mt. Helix Improvement Association, Valle de Oro Planning Group, Casa De Oro Alliance, and community members in collaboration with San Miguel Fire and Rescue, Cal Fire, San Diego County Sheriff, San Diego Gas & Electric, and the Fire Safe Council of San Diego County.


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MIGUEL FIRE HALTED AT 20 ACRES

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left, by J. Stotler  @2412_Fire_Photo : U.S. Forest Service Helitac landing

January 9, 2020 (Chula Vista) – The #MiguelFire northeast of Mt. Miguel Road and Proctor Valley Road scorched approximately20 acres on December 7. 

View aerial video of the fire courtesy of Cal Fire’s tactical aircraft:  https://twitter.com/i/status/1347287650890371079.


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COUNTY FIRE STARTS NEW YEAR WITH NEW NAME

By Donnie RyanCounty of San Diego Communications Office

December 30, 2020 (San Diego) - The year 2021 will mean a new name for the San Diego County Fire Authority as the organization has been recently renamed the San Diego County Fire Protection District.


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OUTAGES ACROSS EAST COUNTY: POWER RESTORATION PLANNED FOR 6 PM CHRISTMAS EVE

By Miriam Raftery

December 24, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – The SDG&E outage center reports that the utility has shut off power due to unsafe conditions in order to prevent wildfires  in numerous East County communities. Fortunately, the expected power restoration time is 6 p.m. tonight – just in time for holiday dinners and Santa’s Christmas Eve visits.

In addition to planned outages, there are several unplanned outages due to accidents or other causes, but all areas are expected to have power back on by early evening.  See SDG&E’s outage page for full details at https://www.sdge.com/residential/customer-service/outage-center/outage-map.

The following communities are impacted by the planned power outages:


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BRUSH FIRE PROMPTS THOUSANDS TO EVACUATE IN FALLBROOK AND CAMP PENDLETON AREAS

 

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alert Service

Photo via Cal-Fire on Twitter

 

December 24, 2020 (Fallbrook) – The #CreekFire which erupted in Fallbrook overnight has burned over 3,000 acres, prompting evacuation of thousands of residents. The blaze, which began shortly before midnight in the 37000 block of De Luz Road two miles west of Sandia Creek Drive. The blaze is 35% contained as of 8 a.m., San Diego Cunty Fire authority reports.

The fire has been burning west, into Camp Pendleton.

A temporary evacuation point has been established at Fallbrook High School, 2400 Stage Coach Lane, the sheriff’s department said.


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NEW PROGRAM OFFERS PLAN B FOR REACHING RESIDENTS IN DISTRESS

By Michele Clock, San Diego County Fire
 
December 23, 2020 (San Diego) -- Imagine you’re having chest pains, or you’ve taken a serious fall inside your home. What if no one could get to the front door to let in firefighters?
 
A new program is offering a back-up plan, to ensure your front door doesn’t stand in the way of getting help.
 
San Diego County Fire’s Residential KnoxBox Program is now providing free lock boxes that will hold a spare copy of your house key. County Fire will install the box just outside the front door for quick fire department access. The boxes can only be opened by local firefighters responding to life-threatening emergencies. Fire personnel will be able to reach residents more quickly when seconds count.  

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30,000 AT RISK OF POWER SHUTOFFS DEC. 23-24 DUE TO RED FLAG WARNING

By Miriam Raftery

December 22, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – SDG&E has notified around 30,000 customers that their power could be shut off due to high fire danger.  The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for parts of Southern California due to possible strong winds from 8 a.m. Wednesday through 12 p.m. Thursday, Christmas Eve. The communities at risk range from El Cajon east to Campo, north to Escondido and mountain areas such as Julian, and as far south as Potrero near the border.

The threat of losing electricity in mid-winter during Christmas week is disheartening for backcountry residents, many of whom have stocked up refrigerators and freezers for holiday feasts. ECM has received complaints from residents who report SDG&E refused to reimburse them for food spoiled during other recent outages. Coming at a time when many are without jobs or have businesses with little income due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the prospect of financial losses due to power outages or worse, a wildfire are particularly troubling.


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FIREFIGHTERS SAVE HOMES, HALT CHAPARRAL FIRE

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left by Scott Lagace

January 17, 2020 (Santee) – Tensions ran high in Santee yesterday, when a fast-moving brush fire scorched 36 acres, threatening homes and high-voltage power lines.

“Crazy and way too close,” photographer Scott Lagace says of the blaze near his Santee home.


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EVACUATION WARNNG ISSUED IN SANTEE DUE TO CHAPARRAL FIRE

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

Photo, left, by Felicia Vlahos

Update 8 p.m.:  The fire scorched 36 acres. All evacuation orders have been lifted.  An investigation continues into the cause of this fire.

December 16, 2020 (Santee) -- The San Diego County Sheriff's Department has issued an emergency evacuation warning to residents in the 10,000 block of Chaparral Dr. in Santee due to the Chaparral Fire. An evacuation warning means that evacuations are currently voluntary, however, everyone should be prepared to evacuate if an evacuation order is issued. Residents who choose to evacuate can go to Santana High School, located at 9915 N Magnolia Ave, Santee, CA 92071.

The Sheriff advises, "If you feel unsafe, evacuate early."If you need emergency assistance with evacuation, call 9-1-1.


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JULIAN FAMILY LOSES HOME TO FIRE: UNINSURED LOSSES INCLUDE TOYS, CHILDREN’S LAPTOPS NEEDED FOR SCHOOL

By Miriam Raftery

 

December 14, 2020 (Julian) – A GoFundMe page has been set up by Julian community members to help the Lares family members, who lost everything in a fire at their home yesterday. 

 

“Perla Lares, a Senior at Julian High School served as Teen Miss Julian Princess in 2018 and 2019, dedicating many hours to community service for Julian and San Diego County.  Her brother, Gabe, is a Freshman at Julian High School,” says Jill Fleming, who started the fundraising page.


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NEW CA LAW MAY NOT GO FAR ENOUGH TO PROTECT AGAINST DANGEROUS CHEMICALS USED IN FIREFIGHTING

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Stock Photo courtesy of Pixaboy on Stockvault.net) 

December 10, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Amazon Prime announced on Dec. 8 that it will ban products that contain “forever toxics” or PFAS/PFOS in their Amazon Kitchen Products. But the same banned chemicals remain in many products – including foam used to fight industrial and airport fires, as well as in firefighting gear and more.

The movie “Dark Waters” illustrates the dangers of these chemicals, which are contained in many consumer products, have been linked to cancer and never break down in the environment.

Senate Bill (SB)1044 makes changes to the PFAS levels allowed in fire-fighting foam, will go into effect Jan. 1, 2022 in California. 

John “Jack” Sexton, with Pyrocool Technologies, alleges that the bill does not go far enough in protecting firefighters from the toxins in competitors’ firefighting foams. His company produces firefighting foams without PFAS/PFOS, but though he contends the products are effective, they have not been authorized by federal authorities.  


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TIME RUNNING OUT FOR VALLEY FIRE SURVIVORS TO APPLY FOR FEMA ASSISTANCE

By Donnie Ryan, County of San Diego Communications Office

Photo: Valley Fire, by Ron Kasper Dronesystems

December 9, 2020 (San Diego's East County) -There is only one week left for San Diego County homeowners and renters affected by the Valley Fire in September to apply for a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant, as the assistance program is scheduled to end Dec. 15.

The FEMA grant program is designed to help with serious disaster-related expenses not covered by insurance such as rent, home repair or replacement, medical or dental costs, transportation or other personal property losses.


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PREVENT CHIMNEY FIRES

East County News Service

Photo: Creative Commons image via Bing

December 9, 2020 (Sacramento) – Home heating fires caused over 48,000 fires last year, killing 500 people and causing $1.1 billion in damages. Most of those tragedies resulted from chimney fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. With power outages in winter weather, many residents in East County’s mountain and rural areas are relying on fireplaces to stay warm. Many others enjoy fireside family time during the holiday season.  But before you light the Yule log or hang stockings with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be there, you should take some simple safety precautions.

The California Office of Emergency Services has provided these tips from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on how to prevent chimney fires.


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