Wildfire News

VALLEY FIRE THREATENS SUNRISE POWERLINK AND WATER SUPPLIES

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via Lakeside Fire:  Firefighters battle Valley Fire for a second sleepless night amid record-breaking heat.

September 6, 2020, 9:30 p.m. (San Diego’s East County) – As firefighters battle the Valley Fire for a second sleepless night, the blaze has burned 9,850 acres, more than doubling since early this morning. It remains only  1% contained, with evacuation that now range south to the border, north past I-8 and Pine Valley, east to Campo, and as far west as portions of Jamul.

Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency for San Diego County.  Tonight, the fire is in the area of Lawson Valley and Carveacre, threatening Sunrise Powerlink, the major electricity supplier for most of our region, and Loveland Reservoir, which supplies drinking water to 191,000 residents, Cleveland National Forest reports.

An evacuation order is in place for Barrett Lake Dam. Evacuation warnings have been issued for Lake Morena, Dulzura, Dog Patch, Potrero, Campo, Honey Springs, Barrett Junction, Deerhorn Valley, Corte Madera, Pine Valley, and the area from Lyon Valley/Japatul Road to Interstate 8.

With power out in some areas, residents may be unable to receive evacuation calls.  Some residents have asked that if you receive an evacuation call or flee due to encroaching flames during the night, please honk your horn as you leave to alert as many neighbors as possible.


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HOW ARE CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATES RESPONDING TO THOSE IN NEED DURING VALLEY FIRE IN EAST COUNTY?

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Ammar Campa-Najjar watches as Valley Fire encroaches on his community

September 6, 2020 (San Diego’s East County)7:30 p.m. – As the Valley Fire chars a devastating swath across the 50th Congressional district, scorching over 5,500 acres and forcing evacuations in many communities, the two candidates vying to represent the district have responded differently – one doing little to assist those in need, the other retweeting dozens of messages and rolling up his sleeves to help others – even after evacuating his own family.

Darrell Issa, who lives in North County outside of the district he hopes to represent, retweeted just three messages about the fire—the last over 12 hours ago. The messages included an early evacuation order 23 hours ago, but no updates when several broad, new evacuation orders were issued. He retweeted one of several road closure announcements, as well as a notice on how to get help evacuating large animals.

Ammar Campa-Najjar, by contrast, took actions personally to help others, organizing relief efforts and posting several dozen social media updates on the fire-- despite being left without power and evacuating his own family from the fire threatening his Jamul home.

The two are  vying to fill the seat vacated by Duncan Hunter, who has been sentenced to prison for diverting $250,000 in campaign finance donations to personal use, but has not yet begun his sentence due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


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23 MAJOR FIRES BURNING ACROSS CALIFORNIA, INCLUDING NEW WILDFIRE IN SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: El Dorado Fire, courtesy of San Bernardino National Forest via Twitter

September 6, 2020 (San Diego) – Major new wildfires ignited yesterday, forcing evacuations in San Diego and neighboring San Bernadino counties as well as Fresno County. even as firefighters continue battling lightning complex fires elsewhere in the state. As of this morning, there are over 14,800 firefighters battling 23 major fires and lightning complexes in California.  View map of major wildfires statewide: https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/

The new fires yesterday include the Valley Fire in San Diego County's Japatul, Carveacre and Lawson Valley areas that destroyed 10 homes overnight, as well as the El Dorado Fire east of San Bernadino, which has torched 2,727 acres in the Yucaipa area and is 5% contained. The San Bernardino National Forest feed on Twitter reports 300 foot high flames.

Since the lightning siege that started on Saturday, August 15, 2020, there have been nearly 14,000 lightning strikes. During this time-period, there have been more than 900 new wildfires, which have now burned over 1.6 million acres. There have been 8 fatalities and nearly 3,300 structures destroyed.


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HOMES LOST OVERNIGHT AS VALLEY FIRE SWELLS TO 4,000 ACRES

 

Update 6:23 p.m. 9/7:  The fire is now 17,345 acres and 3% contained.

Update 9:20 p.m.:  The fire is now 9,850 acres and 1% contained, 11 structures destroyed. Please see updated evacuation map from County of San Diego at sdcountyemergency.com and never hesitate to evacuate if you do not feel safe.

Update 6:55 p.m.   Valley Fire Road Closures are in effect, per CHP tonight:

  • Japatul Road at Lyons Valley Rd/Japatual Valley Road
  • Japatul Road at Tavern Road/Dehesa Road
  • Lyons Valley Road at Honey Springs Road
  • Wisecarver Lane at Wisecarver Truck Trail
  • Skyline Truck Trail and Lawson Valley

Update 4:22 p.m.  The San Diego County Sheriff's Department has issued an evacuation warning for the areas of SR94/Marron Valley Rd and Lyons Valley Rd areas out to Morena Reservoir. Please see the Emergency Map for updated areas that are impacted.

Update 3:35 p.m.  New evacuation advisories include Potrero, Tecate, Barrett Junction and Dulzura. View map here: https://www.sdcountyemergency.com/content/oesemergency/en-us/maps.html.

Per Cal Fire just now:  The fire is now 5,350 acres and is 1% contained, burning at a critical/dangerous rate of spread. Structures are being threatened in Carveacre, Lawson Valley, Wood Valley, Lyons Valley, Deer Horn Valley and Sycuan Indian Reservation. sdcountyemergency.com

Per Pulsepoint:  #ValleyFire is making a run for Barrett Lake, Lake Morena, and Hauser Canyon.

New road closures:  Lawson Valley Rd closed at Skyline TT and Rudnick Dr.   Japatul Rd closed from Dehesa to Lyons Valley Rd   Lyons Valley Rd closed from Japatul Rd to Honey Springs Rd

Update 2 p.m.:  The Valley Fire temporary evacuation point for large animals is the County Animal Services South Shelter located at 5821 Sweetwater Road in Bonita. Call (619) 236-2341.  The evacuation center at Joan MacQueen Middle Schoolm 2001 Tavern Rd., Alpine has reopened. 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, right by Kathy Matranga

 

September  6, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – The #ValleyFire has scorched 4,000 acres, according to Cal Fire’s incident report this morning. Cal Fire San Diego’s Twitter feed reports that 10 structures were destroyed overnight; the blaze is still zero percent contained.

View a map of the fire via NASA satellite imagery.

Road closures:  The San Diego County Sheriff advises that the following road closures are in effect:

  • Japatul Rd. and Carveacre Rd.
  • Lawson Valley Rd. and Skyline Truck Trail
  • Japatul Rd. and Sequan Truck Trail
  • Japatul Rd. and Hidden Glen Rd.

According to the US Forest Service, 335 firefighters are battling the flames on the ground. Structures are being threatened in the Carveacre and Lawson Valley, Wood Valley, Lyons Valley, Deer Horn Valley and Sycuan Indian Reservation.


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VALLEY FIRE IN ALPINE THREATENS HOMES

Update 5:53 p.m.: The fire is now 1,500 acres. An evacuation order remains in effect for the community of Carve Acre.

Update 5:15 p.m.: Approximately 12,700 customers are without power as a result of the #ValleyFire. The fire is impacting SDG&E equipment in the vicinity of the fire. SDG&E has activated its Emergency Operations Center and is closely monitoring the fire. Additional cool zones are open this weekend (though not after 5pm): https://sdgenews.com/article/additional-cool-zone-hours-added-holiday-we...

Update 5:26 p.m.:  Cal Fire says the wildfire is moving west toward Lawson Valley. Those under evacuation orders can go to Steele Canyon High School at 12440 Campo Road, Spring Valley or Joan MacQueen Middle School at 2001 Tavern Road, Alpine.

Update 4:59 p.m.:  The Valley Fire is now 1,000 acres, per Cal Fire. Temperatures in the Alpine area have soared to 113 degrees.  Scanner traffic indicates a one-mile front on the fire burning toward Lawson Valley. A request for VBAT (very bit air tankers) has been denied due to them battling fires elsewhere.

Update 4:25 p.m.:  The Valley Fire is now 500 acres and zero percent contained. SDG&E's outage map indicates there are some power outages in the fire area. The Lawson Valley area in Jamul is now threatened.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left by Kristine Pamintuan, from her home on Japatul Valey Road.

September 5, 2020 (Alpine) – The #ValleyFire is burning westward at a critical rate of spread after starting near 4561 Spirit Trail in the Japatul Valley area of Alpine. The fast-moving brush fire has burned 300 to 400 acres and is threatening homes. Residents of Carveacre are under evacuation orders, the National Forest Service reports.

Multiple fire agencies have responded including air tankers and helicopters. SG&E's Sky Maverick is also doing water drops.

Firefighters are battling the blaze in 105 degree heat with winds 14-28 mph amid a red flag alert and gusty winds.


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CAR AND BRUSH FIRE QUICKLY STAMPED OUT BY FIREFIGHTERS NEAR CAMPO

Story and photos by Jonathan Goetz

September 5, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- A car fire was reported at 10:55 a.m. this morning, Saturday Labor Day weekend 2020, between Pine Valley and Boulder Oaks (just west of the Campo turn-off from Interstate 8). Firefighters were on the scene when East County Wildfire and Emergency Alerts arrived an hour later. 


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EXTREME HEAT AND FIRE RISK FORECAST FOR LABOR DAY WEEKEND

By Miriam Raftery
 
September 2, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Scorching heat is forecast starting Friday and building through the Labor Day weekend.This brings “near critical fire weather risk,” with high temperatures and dry air, according to the National Weather Service. Friday through Monday will likely be the hottest days of the year, forecasters predict.

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OVER A MILLION ACRES BURNING ACROSS CALIFORNIA: PRESIDENT AUTHORIZES DISASTER AID

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Cal Fire via Instagram

August 23, 2020 (San Diego) – More than 14,000 firefighters are battling wildfires that have charred nearly 1.3 million acres across California.  Since August 15, there have been over 615 new wildfires sparked by nearly 12,000 lightning strikes, including fires that are now among the largest in the state’s history.  Governor Gavin Newsom has requested help from firefighters as far away as Australia and Canada.

Today, President Donald Trump announced that federal disaster assistance will be provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for  Lake,  Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo counties. The aid includes grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.    Federal funding is also available to the state, tribal, eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures in those counties.

 In addition, federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.


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FLASH FLOOD WARNING: DANGEROUS THUNDERSTORMS THIS AFTERNOON

August 21, 2020 (San Diego's East County) -- The National Weather Service has detected dangerous thunderstorms across portions of East County. A flash flood warning is in effect now through late this afternoon for areas in and around Pine Valley, Boulevard, Mount Laguna and Cuyamaca.

Move to high ground immediately if you are in these areas.


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FIRES RAGE ACROSS NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  Bureau of Land Management image of smoke frm the CZU Lightning Complex Fire threatening Davenport, CA



August 21, 2020  -- Nearly 12,000 firefighters are battling nearly two dozen major fires and complexes across California, Cal Fire reports. Since the lightning siege started on Saturday, August 15, 2020 there have been nearly 12,000 lightning strikes. During this time-period, there have been more than 560 new wildfires, which have burned over 771,00 acres, burned over 660 structures and killed at least five people in northern California, including a former Channel 10 helicopter pilot.

Flames also devastated a historic redwood tree grove in Northern California.  “We are devastated to report that Big Basin State Park, as we have known it, loved it, and cherished it for generations, is gone,” the Sempivirens Fund, which supports the park, posted on Facebook yesterday. “ Early reports are that the wildfire has consumed much of the park’s historic facilities. We do not yet know the fate of the park’s grandest old trees.”

U.C. Santa Cruz has evacuated the campus after flames burned to within a mile of the university.


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THUNDERSTORMS POSE RISK OF LIGHTNING FIRES AS DANGEROUS HEAT WAVE CONTINUES THIS WEEK

By Miriam Raftery

August 17, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Over 1,600 lightning strikes have sparked at least 76 fires in northern California in the past 24 hours.  Now thunderstorms are forecast for our region this week, amid a scorching heat wave described as “dangerous” by the National Weather Service. “Record breaking” temperatures may occur, as well as gusty winds, rain, and dangerous lightning Tuesday and Wednesday.


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APPLE FIRE VIDEOS

 

August 14, 2020 (San Diego's East County) -- Local resident Richard Edwords of Alpine is a water tender who has been working fire lines in Riverside County. He sent in these two dramatic videos of the #AppleFire there, which is now 90% contained after burning over 33,000 acres.


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ROLLING BLACKOUTS ACROSS COUNTY: BE PREPARED

 

East County News Service

August 14, 2020 (San Diego) -- The California Independent System Operator (ISO), which oversees the statewide electric grid, has directed SDG&E to initiate rotating, one-hour service interruptions (rotating outages) throughout its service territory in San Diego and southern Orange counties. The blackouts are underway and are currently affecting thousands of residences.  View a list of current outages and estimated restoration times at  https://www.sdge.com/residential/customer-service/outage-center/outage-map.

While the rotating outages will be widespread in the region, communities located in high fire threat districts, which experience public safety power shutoffs, will be exempt from the service interruptions, SDG&E announced today.



The local outages are the result of excessive heat driving up electricity use and putting strain on the grid. CASIO has declared a “Stage 3” power emergency because contingency reserves have fallen or are anticipated to fall below requirements and cannot be restored without service interruptions.


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FIRE BREAKS OUT IN ALPINE

By Rebeca Jefferis Williamson

 

August 13, 2020 (Alpine) A vegetation fire broke out late afternoon today near I-8 and Victoria Drive in Alpine according to Cal Fire.

Multiple spots along the freeway were impacted. The fire was labelled the  #VictoriaFire.

According to Cal Fire, with an update, the fire has been stopped. Crews are mopping up the fires as of 6:00 p.m.

Traffic in the area has been heavily impacted.


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WATCH NOW: EAST COUNTY NEWSMAKERS, SHAKERS AND NEWSMAKERS FIRST VIRTUAL PROGRAM ON COVID-19 AND WILDFIRE SAFETY ISSUES

 

August 10, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – On Friday, August 7, East County Magazine took our “Newsmakers, Shakers and Newsmakers” community forum/webinar series virtual.  Thanks to the #FacebookJournalismProject for supporting our community news reporting and virtual events in the COVID-19 era.

Thanks to all of you who sent in questions via email and social media for Dr. William Tseng, one of San Diego’s top COVID-19 experts, who shared the latest facts on COVID-19 trends and what the medical community has learned since the pandemic beganWhy does San Diego have a lower death rate than the nation?  What are the facts and myths about this disease?  How accurate are tests?  How can you help save lives if you’ve survived COVID-19?  What will it take to end the pandemic and return life to normal in our region?  Listen in to hear Dr. Tseng's fascinating responses.

Robyn Herrick, community resiliency advisor with SDG&E, discussed their upcoming drive-through Wildfire Safety Fairs coming up in Alpine, Pine Valley and Valley Center. Get details here

Hear what you need to know to stay safe this fire season – and how you get free devices to help you stay in communication even while you’re evacuated.


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BRUSH FIRE ON HIGHWAY 94 IN JAMUL NEAR HONEY SPRINGS RD.

UPDATE AS OF 7:12 P.M.:  The forward rate of spread for the Hillside Fire has been stopped.  EB 94 at Rancho Jamul Dr. lanes blocked

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

August 6, 2020 (Jamul) - Cal Fire San Diego is at the scene of a 2 acre vegetation fire in the area of Hwy 94 and Honey Springs Rd in Jamul.  Follow the #SpringsFire hashtag for more updates.  Highway 94 at Honey Springs Rd. lanes are blocked due to fire.  Please avoid area.

Cal Fire is also at the scene of a separate vegetation fire in the area of Hwy 94 and Hillside Dr in Jamul. Please avoid the area and follow the #HillsideFire hashtag for more updates.

Sign up for free East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts at the top right side of our homepage, and you can also receive our free weekly e-newsletter with top local news. You can also follow EastCountyAlert on Twitter for brief text alerts on your mobile phone.


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LOCAL FIREFIGHTERS DISPATCHED TO BATTLE APPLE FIRE IN RIVERSIDE COUNTY: THOUSANDS EVACUATED

 

Update August 14, 2020: The Apple Fire is 90% containued after burning over 33,000 acres.  The fire has been found to be "human caused." https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/6902/53155/

Update August 3, 2020:  San Bernadino National Forest reports this morning that the fire is now five percent contained, with acreage and evacuations remaining the same as yesterday.

Update August 2, 2020:  The #AppleFire has scorched over 20,000 acres and remain zero percent contained. Find new evacuation orders here:  https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/2020/7/31/apple-fire/.  The fire is now burning in both Riverside and San Bernadino Counties. New evacuation areas include Banning, Potato Canyon, and some areas north of Morongo Road.

View dramatic video of the Apple Fire burning during the night behind the Morongo Casino:  https://twitter.com/i/status/1290098105291911168

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy of Cleveland National Forest

August 1, 2020 (Riverside County) – San Miguel Firefighters are among crews battling the fast-moving #AppleFire, which has scorched over  12,000 acres in neighboring Riverside County, forcing evacuation of 4,800 people.  Tonight, Cal Fire confirms that at least one home and two outbuildings have been destroyed, with many structures threatened.

At nightfall, the fire remains zero percent contained.


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SDG&E HOLDS DRIVE-THROUGH WILDFIRE SAFETY FAIRS

By Miriam Raftery

July 28, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – With fire season around the corner, SDG&E has announced a series of drive-through Wildfire Safety Fairs.  You can get a free emergency preparedness backpack and/or bucket, plus learn how to protect your family and property at upcoming drive-through wildfire safety fairs hosted by SDG&E.  The backpack includes a solar hand-crank radio, solar cell phone charger, 150 watt power inverter for plugging items into your car to charge, flashlight, 2.5 gallon water bag, first aid kit, toilet paper, face mask, insulated lunch box with reusable ice packs, glow stick and more.  

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AHEAD OF PEAK FIRE SEASON, GOVERNOR NEWSOM ANNOUNCES MORE FIREFIGHTING SUPPORT AMID COVID-19 PANDEMIC

In early season fires, major changes to emergency operations and sheltering have been made to protect firefighters and evacuees

Source: Governor’s Office

July 13, 2020 (Sacramento) – Governor Gavin Newsom visited McClellan Air Force Base on July 9 to highlight the state’s wildfire mitigation capabilities and discuss new efforts to protect emergency personnel and evacuees from COVID-19 during wildfires. 


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NAVAL SHIP FIRE PROMPTS COUNTY AIR QUALITY WARNINGS ; SHIP MAY BE TOTAL LOSS, IMPACTING NAVAL READINESS

57 injured, including Navy personnel and civilians

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: County News Service

July 13, 2020 (San Diego) – As crews continue to battle an inferno engulfing the Navy amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard  for a second day, the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) has issued an advisory warning of potentially “unhealthy” air quality particularly for the elderly, children, and people with lung or heart conditions. 

“In areas with heavy smoke, San Diegans should assume the air quality levels are unhealthy for sensitive groups and could be unhealthy for the public,” says Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer.  “In areas with minor smoke impacts, the air quality levels are likely to be moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups."

Some East County residents have complained of irritation to eyes and skin. Heartland and San Miguel Fire departments both report receiving many calls from concerned residents. Any negative impact on air quality is of special concern during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused respiratory distress in many patients and a new shutdown order issued by Governor Gavin Newsom today of many businesses due to only 36 percent of ICU beds remaining available statewide as coronavirus cases spike.


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FIRE BREAKS OUT ONBOARD SAN DIEGO BASED NAVAL SHIP USS BONHOMME RICHARD

Update July 13, 2020 -- The fire continues burning for a second day. The County Health Dept. advises staying indoors if you smell the smoke.
 
Celeste Shanas sent the photo (right) with this eyewitness account:"So there are currently 2-3 military helicopters scooping up water from the bay and doing aerial drops directly above the fire. This is a little different from how fires are fought with planes in the East County.  The drops today require almost surgical precision and involve many other factors that affect how the aircraft is controlled. I can see the drop bucket swaying pretty heavily after each drop, moving the helo with it.  The circle from fire to water scoop -up and back to drop is pretty tight - only about a minute per cycle.  Thank God for our military. Their training and readiness is on full display this morning."
 
Update 7:30 p.m.:  21 people are now hospitalized including several civilians.
 
Smoke has affected air quality regionwide. An air quality alert has been issued for National City and areas near the pier in San Diego.Heartland Fire and San Miguel Fire report receiving many calls from residents smelling fumes from the ship fire. Some residents report irritaton to skin or eyes. To avoid exposure to burning chemicals, if you smell the smoke, it's wise to stay indoors and if you have an air filter, use it. 
 
By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson
 
Photo courtesy San Diego Fire and Rescue
 
July 12, 2020 (San Diego) - Firefighters are battling a fire onboard the San Diego based ship, USS Bonhomme Richard.  Approximately 160 sailors were aboard when the ship caught fire. According to Twitter updates provided by Naval Surface Forces  approximately 160 sailors were on board when the fire began and all have been safely evacuated, however 18 sailors were transported to a hospital with minor injuries.

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ILLEGAL FIREWORKS SPARK FIRES AND A BARRAGE OF COMPLAINTS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Screenshot of KCAL video showing llegal fireworks across Los Angeles

July 8, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – With fireworks shows cancelled or not allowing on-site viewing due to COVID-19, use of illegal fireworks skyrocketed across southern California. This video by KCAL shows a panorama of illegal fireworks in Los Angeles, where an illegal fireworks display burned down eight apartments and injured five people, CBS reported.

In a normal year, July 4th fireworks cause 19,000 fires nationwide. But this year, residents across San Diego County and elsewhere say the problem was far worse.

San Miguel Fire Department, in response to an ECM records request, confirms their firefighters were dispatched to halt three fires caused by fireworks. One near Campo and Millar Ranch roads burned down 10 trees near a wildlife preserve and church.  Another firecracker ignited a neighbor’s backyard on Redfield Street. A third was spotted in a Spring Valley canyon behind Barcelona Street.


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SAN MIGUEL FIRE DISTRICT FREEZES NON-ESSENTIAL EXPENSES DUE TO COVID-19, WILL HEAR PROPOSED BUDGET JULY 10

By Miriam Raftery

July 5, 2020 (Spring Valley) – San Miguel Fire District’s board of directors will consider the 2020/2021 budget at a July 10th hearing due to COVID-19.  The finance committee has proposed freezing all non-essential and discretionary spending due to unanticipated costs of the pandemic estimated at less than $172,000.


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FIREWORKS ARE ILLEGAL TO OWN OR USE IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY: HERE ARE SAFE ALTERNATIVES

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 2, 2020 (San Diego) -- Fireworks are illegal in San Diego County. Yet East County experienced a recent fire due to illegal fireworks, says Sonny Saghera, public information officer with Heartland Fire & Rescue.

Fireworks are often used to mark special events and holidays. However, the only safe way to view fireworks is to watch a professional show.

Here’s where to view live fireworks shows in East County and elsewhere in the San DIego region from a safe distance, as well as local online fireworks displays and patriotic shows:  https://www.eastcountymagazine.org/where-find-fireworks-east-county-july-4th

“With many professional firework shows being canceled this year, it is important to know that fireworks are not safe in the hands of consumers. Fireworks cause thousands of injuries each year,” Saghera notes.

Heartland Fire offers few other ideas to get into the patriotic spirit, without fireworks, a well as some fireworks safety facts:


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SAN DIEGO RED CROSS HELPS THOSE DISPLACED BY NILAND FIRE

By Miriam Raftery

July 2, 2020 (San Diego) – On Sunday, a fire destroyed 40 homes and killed one person in Niland, California, an economically depressed desert town in Imperial County.  Around 130 people in the town of 1,000 were displaced and have been receiving help from the American Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial Counties.

The Red Cross has requested donations which can be made at www.RedCross.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS. Due to COVID-19 and safe handling requirements, the Red Cross is unable to accept donations of goods.

The top priority is to provide shelter, as well as meals, relief and emotional support, as well as recovery planning and other assistance. The Red Cross has also assisted first responders in this fire.


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FOURTH OF JULY WEEKEND FORECAST: FIRE WEATHER AND RIP CURRENTS

By Miriam Raftery

June 30, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – The weather will be warming up over the Fourth of July weekend. But before you head to the beach, be aware that elevated surf is forecast to generate strong rip currents that will be hazardous to swimmers this weekend and next week.

On Sunday and Monday,  breezy winds, warmer conditions and low relative humidity will create elevated fire weather conditions, says meteorologist Casey Oswant with the National Weather Service. The conditions are “favorable for fast-moving grass fires,” Oswant cautions.


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HAM RADIO OPERATORS CONTINUE LEARNING DESPITE SOCIAL DISTANCING: LOCAL VOLUNTEERS PROVIDE VITAL COMMUNICATION DURING EMERGENCIES

By Rob Freeburn

Photo by Sharon Freeburn:  “Using portable radio equipment in Alpine, radio operator Rob Freeburn reaches out to radio operators on the US East Coast."

June 27, 2020 (Alpine) --  On Saturday, 6/27/2020, San Diego East County ham radio enthusiasts transmitted radio signals from homes, backyards and parking lots to connect with other radio enthusiasts across North America to compete against each other and to practice emergency radio communications. Although the results are not yet tabulated, East County radio "hams" always do well in the competition because the remote backcountry and higher elevation make East County an ideal radio operating location. Radio hams in Crest, Alpine, Descanso, Mt Laguna, Ramona, Julian, and Campo turn in some of the highest scores in the United States. From East County, the most sought-after radio contacts were in Delaware and Prince Edward Island on the East Coast of Canada. 


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EAST COUNTY FIRE INVESTIGATION

CORRECTION: Previous versions mistakenly refered to Lakeside. It should have read El Cajon. Read update here.

East County News Service

June 12, 2020 (El Cajon) – The San Diego County Sheriff’s Bomb/Arson detectives are investigating the cause of a fire yesterday in El Cajon, says Sergeant David Chamoo.

Deputies from the Lakeside substation responded at 2:44 p.m. to the 1600 block of Via Elisa Drive for a structure fire that threatened adjacent structures due to strong winds. The officers made evacuation notifications to nearby residences until the fire was extinguished.


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ILLEGAL BONFIRES HEIGHTEN RISKS AS FIRE SEASON ARRIVES: CAL FIRE HALTS BURN PERMITS

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Photo by Paul Kruze, left:  Bonfire in Rancho San Diego ignited nearby foliage, prompting fire crews to respond.

June 12, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Cal Fire has banned burn permits effective immediately, as temperatures rise across our inland region. The no-burn proclamation will remain in effect indefinitely.

Two recent illegal bonfires in a single night swiftly burned out of control recently, prompting responses by firefighters witnessed by this ECM journalist. Those incidents highlight the dangers of open burning, as temperatures rise and brush dries out across our inland region with summer drawing near.


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BRUSH FIRE IN JAMUL

 

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

Photos via Dan Rigger and Matthew and Shawna Schick

View videos of the Skyline Fire by Preston Brown: 

https://vimeo.com/428408454

https://vimeo.com/428417617

Update 2 p.m.:  The fire is now 100 acres and 5% contained, per Cal Fire.

Update 2:45 p.m.:  Per CalFire, evacuation orders have broadened to the area along Skyline Truck Tr. from the 15000 block to Twisted Oak Rd. Also included is the area on Wisecarver Truck Trail. A temporary evacuation point will be Regal Edwards movie theater in Rancho San DIego at 2951 Jamacha Rd., El Cajon. 

Update 6:40 p.m.: Forward spread has been stopped. The fire is 100 acres and 10% contained.  No structures or livestock were lost and there were no injuries.

June 11, 2020 (Jamul) -- Cal Fire is at the scene of a vegetation fire in the 17000 block of Skyline Truck Trail in the Lawson Valley area of Jamul.  As of 12:45 p.m. the fire is 20 acres and spreading at a moderate rate, per Cal Fire/County Fire Authority.  

Evacuation orders have been issued between the 15600 block of Skyline Truck Trail and 17700 block of Skyline Truck Trail due to the #SkylineFire, ECM news partner NBC 7 reports.

Skyline Truck Trail is closed from  Lawson Valley Rdo to Honey Springs Road in Lyons Valley. 


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