Wildfire News

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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BRUSH FIRE IN EAST RAMONA; STRUCTURES THREATENED

UPDATE 5:41 P.M.:  ALL EVACUATION ORDERS LIFTED.  FIRE IS 52% CONTAINED

UPDATE 2 p.m. : Congressman Duncan Hunter has contacted the White House to request that military aircraft assets, such as the C130s used for fighting fires, be moved and available at Naval Air Station Point Mugu.  Rep. Hunter indicated that these assets could be moved to this location for training purposes in anticipation of California declaring an emergency and requesting assistance.

UPDATE 1:16 P.M.:  FORWARD RATE OF SPREAD STOPPED;  FIRE IS 97 ACRES AND 15% CONTAINED

UPDATE 10:52 A.M.:  Fire is currently 70 acres and 0% contained.  150 firefighters currently engaged.

UPDATE 10:42 A.M.:  ALL EB & WB LANES OF HWY. 78 AT 3RD ST. HAVE REOPENED.

East County News Service

October 25, 2019 (Ramona) --  A vegetation fire is burning in the area of Sawday Truck Trail in E Ramona. Sheriff's Department initiating door-to-door evacuations in locations of West of Littlepage Rd and South of Old Julian Hwy.  All EB & WB lanes of SR-78 closed between 3rd St (Ramona) and Old Julian Highway due to the fire.

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SDG&E OPENS MORE RESOURCE CENTERS FRIDAY IN OUTAGE AREAS

 

Update 11 a.m.  SDG&E has shut off power to around 16,000 customers due to very high winds howling through some mountain and rural areas of East County.  Winds approaching 100 mph have been clocked today atop at least one local mountain peak.

East County News Service

October 24, 2019 (San DIego's East County) -- San Diego Gas & Electric will open seven Community Resource Centers tomorrow, Friday, October 25th starting at 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. due to power outages the company initiated during the Santa Ana wind event.  Water and snacks will be available, and residents can charge devices and get up-to-date information about power outages at these Centers:

- Descanso Branch Library: 9545 River Dr. Descanso, CA, 91916

- Whispering Winds Catholic Camp: 17606 Harrison Park Road, Julian, CA, 92036

- Pine Valley Improvement Club: 28890 Old Highway 80, Pine Valley, CA, 91962

- Lake Morena Community Church: 29765 Oak Drive, Campo, CA, 91906

- Portrero Community Center: 24550 Hwy 94, Portrero, CA, 91963

- Dulzura Community Center: 1136 Community Building Road, Dulzura, CA, 91917

- Warner Springs Resource Center: 30950 CA-79, Warner Springs, CA, 92086


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IS IT FAIR TO BLAST PG&E FOR NOT MANAGING BLACKOUTS LIKE SDG&E?

By Claire Trageser, KPBS | CALmatters

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

Photo:  Flames from the Witch Fire light up the early Friday morning sky in northern San Diego County, Oct. 26, 2007. Photo by Jon Vidar/Associated Press

October 23, 2019 (San Diego) - As Pacific Gas & Electric Co. plans power shutdowns beginning Wednesday in parts of 17 Northern California counties due to high winds and fire danger, its management of the crisis has been widely criticized.


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SDG&E EXPANDS POTENTIAL OUTAGE AREAS; SOME CUSTOMERS COMPLAIN OF ERRATIC NOTIFICATIONS

By Miriam Raftery

 

Update October 24:  As of 8 a.m. Thursday, power is shut off for 431 people in Dehesa, Alpine, Rancho Palo Verde, Santa Ysabel, Wynola, Pine Hills, East Descanso, Green Valley Falls, Cuyamaca, Viejas, West Descanso, Boulder Creek, Live Oak Springs, Boulevard, Jacumba, Japatul Valley, Buckman Springs, Morena Village. Resource centers have been opened in Julian and Descanso; scroll down for details.

October 23, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – SDG&E is warning of a new round of potential power-shut offs that could affect up to 23,944 customers, with a red flag warning from 5 a.m. Thursday through 5 p.m. Friday evening.

The areas that could be impacted are Alpine, Barona, Barrett Lake, Boulevard, Campo, Cuyamaca, Descanso, East Poway, East Valley Center, Julian, Mesa Grande, Mount Laguna, Palomar Mountain, Pine Valley, Potrero, Ramona, Rancho Bernardo (portions), Santa Ysabel, Shelter Valley, Viejas and Warner Springs.

The utility’s site states that it makes several efforts to notify ratepayers prior to shutoffs. In many cases the system worked to provide customers with time to prepare for outages.  However, some rural residents have posted complaints on social media stating that they received repeated warnings of shut-offs that never occurred, and later had power shut-off with no warning.


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RED FLAG WARNING: HIGH FIRE DANGER

East County News Service
 
October 22, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning due to high fire danger beginning early Thursday morning through Friday night. The warning is in effect for San Diego mountains, foothills and inland valleys in San Diego County.

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SDG&E ANNOUNCES FIRE SAFE 3.0 INNOVATIONS TO ADVANCE WILDFIRE SAFETY

New initiatives include creating a fire science and innovation lab and leveraging artificial intelligence to enhance forecasting 

Source: SDG&E

October 21, 2019 (San Diego) -- To adapt to the effects of our changing climate and threat of year-round wildfires, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is partnering with academia, government and public safety professionals to innovate and implement more advanced technologies designed to further improve wildfire safety in the region. Initial innovations include maximizing artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve situational awareness, a new Vegetation Risk Index and satellite enabled wildfire alerts.     


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KEY LEGISLATION TO IMPROVE WILDFIRE PREVENTION SIGNED BY GOVERNOR NEWSOM

Broad coalition applauds  Governor for supporting creation of a California Wildfire Warning Center, defensible space standards and development of more skilled workers to support firefighters

October 21, 2019 (Sacramento) -  Action for Wildfire Resiliencya broad coalition of labor, senior, public safety groups, businesses and utilities was pleased to see Governor Newsom sign key wildfire prevention legislation the coalition supported, including:


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SDG&E IS PREPARED FOR SANTA ANA WINDS, WARNS 1,000 BACKCOUNTRY CUSTOMERS OF POTENTIAL SAFETY POWER SHUTOFFS

October 21 (San Diego) -- San Diego’s backcountry is expected to experience Santa Ana winds Monday and Tuesday (Oct. 20-22), winds expected to peak on Monday in the 30-40 miles per hour range.  The utility has warned 1,032 customers that it may need to turn off power for safety in these communities:

  • Boulder Creek
  • Boulevard
  • Cameron
  • Crestwood
  • La Posta
  • Valley Center East
  • Viejas

(A map of the areas that could potentially be affected is posted at sdge.com/ready.)


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CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER

By Miriam Raftery 

October 19, 2019 (San Diego) – The National Weather Service is warning of critical fire weather from Sunday through Tuesday locally, with the highest risk on Tuesday. 


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JULIAN-CUYAMACA FIRE VOLUNTEERS CHALLENGE CAL FIRE/COUNTY FIRE CHIEF TONY MECHAM'S MEDICAL ASSISTANCE CLAIM

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

 

October 18, 2019 (Julian) -- San Diego County Fire Authority/CAL FIRE Chief Tony Mecham raised alarms about a medical situation at the Julian Fire Station No. 56, which led San Diego Superior Court Judge Randa Trapp to issue a court order in late May that forced Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District volunteers out of the embattled fire station. But volunteers with the JCFPD vigorously dispute Mecham’s assertions and contend he misconstrued the matter.


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SAN DIEGO RESIDENTS ENCOURAGED TO START LOCAL FIRE SAFE COUNCILS TO PROTECT THEIR COMMUNITIES FROM THE EVER-PRESENT RISK OF WILDFIRE

East County News Service

October 16, 2019 (San Diego) -- Because fire season is now a year-round threat in San Diego, enlisting the support of community volunteers is critical to ensure the safety of the County. The Fire Safe Council of San Diego County is encouraging communities to create local fire safe councils to increase their neighborhood’s chances of surviving a wildfire. San Diego County currently has 41 community fire safe councils – the most of any county in the state – and they want to see that number grow.  


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BRUSH FIRE IN TALMADGE AREA: EVACUATIONS AND POWER OUTAGE

 

Update:  Per SDPD, all evacuation orders and warnings associated with this incident have been lifted. The temporary evacuation point has been suspended and evacuees can return to their homes.

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

October 15, 2019 (San Diego) – A brush fire named the “#FairmountFire” in San Diego’s Talmadge area has shut down the I-8 east ramp to Fairmount Avenue and Fairmount Ave. from Montezuma to Mead. Motorists are asked to avoid the area.

San Diego Police is evacuating homes on Norma, Constance and Natalie Drives.  A temporary evacuation center has been set up at Hoover High School.

Temporary evacuation center at Hoover HS for those affected. Firefighters are in the canyon areas working with on containment and watching hot spots.

More than 4,000 customers are without power; SDG&E estimates power will be restored by 9:30 p.m.


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SUPERVISOR JACOB ASKS BOARD TO APPROVE EMERGENCY EVACUATION ROUTE FOR CREST

Update: This item was approved by Supervisors on the consent calendar.
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
File photo: Crest Fire Safe Council, 2011
 
October 14, 2019 (Crest) – During the 2003 Cedar Fire that destroyed many homes in Crest, community residents found themselves trapped in gridlock on La Cresta Road, the primary evacuation route. On Tuesday, October 15, Supervisor Dianne Jacob will ask the County Board of Supervisors to approve acquiring easements from landowners over Suncrest Truck Trial as an emergency evacuation route.

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FIRE WEATHER CONTINUES, GUSTY WINDS RETURN THIS WEEK

East County News Service

 

October 13, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – Elevated fire concerns continue this week due to low relative humidity and dry vegetation, with gusty winds starting Tuesday and increasing through Friday. Next weekend could see a return of dangerous Santa Ana conditions.


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100,000 EVACUATED AS SADDLERIDGE FIRE IN L.A. COUNTY BURNS DOZENS OF HOMES

By Miriam Raftery, East County Magazine

Photo: L.A. County Fire Ops
 
October 11, 2019 (Los Angeles) – The #SaddleridgeFirein Los Angeles has scorched 7,500 acres and forced an estimated 100,000 residents to flee 23,000 homes in the Granada Hills, Porter Ranch and Sylmar areas in Los Angeles County.  The fire has burned at least 25 homes and is 13% contained.  One resident died of a heart attack in the fire and a firefighter suffered an eye injury, the Los Angeles Times reports.

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SDG&E OPENS RESOURCE CENTER IN DESCANSO FOR RESIDENTS WITHOUT POWER

 

Update: A second resource center has been opened at the Golden Acorn Casino in Campo.

395 customers of SDG&E are currently without power; outages could impact up to 17,771, the utility warns

October 11, 2019 (Descanso) -- San Diego Gas & Electric will open a Community Resource Center today, Friday, October 11 at 8:00 a.m. in Descanso, CA due to power outages the company initiated during the Santa Ana wind event.  Water and snacks will be available and residents can charge devices, as well as get up-to-date information about power outages at the Center.

Community Resource Center location: Descanso Public Library (9545 River Drive, Descanso, CA 91916) 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Additional resouce centers may open if the outage area is extended.


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SDG&E WARNS OF POWER SHUT-OFFS IN NEXT 48 HOURS TO 28,701 CUSTOMERS IN EAST COUNTY COMMUNITIES

October 9, 2019 (San Diego's East County) -- SDG&E has issued a warning that it may shut off power to 28,701 customers in East County communities starting in the next 48 hours due to wildfire risks.  A red flag alert has been issued for Thursday afternoon and Friday by the National Weather Service.  The following communities are currently forecasted to be impacted:

  • Banner Grade
  • Boulevard
  • Descanso
  • East Alpine
  • East Ramona
  • Fallbrook
  • Julian
  • Mesa Grande
  • Mt Laguna
  • Palomar Mountain
  • Pine Valley
  • Potrero
  • Rancho Santa Fe
  • Rincon
  • Santa Ysabel
  • Valley Center
  • Viejas
  • West Valley Center
  • Wynola


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NO-COST CHIPPING & DEFENSIBLE SPACE SERVICES HELP HOMEOWNERS REDUCE RISK OF WILDFIRE DAMAGE

Source: Fire Safe Council of San Diego County

October 8, 2019 (San Diegoo) -- Residents in wildfire-prone communities throughout San Diego County are encouraged to take advantage of free chipping and defensible space services offered by the Fire Safe Council of San Diego County (FSCSDC).  Funding for this service is provided through a $1.355 million grant from the US Forest Service, Cleveland National Forest.  


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RED FLAG ALERT ISSUED: HIGH FIRE DANGER THURSDAY AND FRIDAY

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

October 8, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – A red flag alert is in effect for the San Diego County mountains and valleys from 12 noon Thursday through 6 p.m. due to high fire danger. 


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CAL FIRE INCREASES STAFFING FOR EXTREME FIRE DANGER CONDITIONS

Source:  CAL FIRE

October 8, 2019 (Sacramento) - CAL FIRE firefighters are staffing up and preparing for the forecasted extreme fire weather across California. The National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings and fire weather watches for areas of northern, central and southern California. This will likely be the strongest offshore wind event so far this season.


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SUPREME COURT DENIES SDG&E APPEAL, ENDING UTILITY’S EFFORT TO CHARGE RATEPAYERS FOR 2007 FIRESTORM DAMAGES

By Miriam Raftery

October 7, 2019 (San Diego) – The U.S. Supreme Court announced yesterday that it has denied San Diego Gas & Electric Company’s request for the high court to hear an appeal of a California Supreme Court decision. The California court denied the utility company’s request to charge utility ratepayers for $379 million in liabilities for the firestorm damages beyond the $1.1 billion in insurance coverage.


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ALPINE FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT ENCOURAGES RESIDENTS TO ”PLAN, PRACTICE AND ESCAPE” DURING NATIONAL FIRE PREVENTION WEEK

East County News Service

October 7, 2019 (Alpine) -- The Alpine Fire Protection District in collaboration with the National Fire Protection Agency is spreading the word about Fire Prevention Week October 6-12The district also hosts its annual Open House at the fire station (1364 Tavern Rd.) on October 26th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  All are invited to come and visit the fire station, see the equipment up close and meet your firefighters. 

 

This year’s theme is “Plan and Practice your Escape!”


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VEHICLE FIRE SPARKS BRUSH BLAZE NEAR GREEN VALLEY FALLS CAMPGROUND

By Miriam Raftery
 
October 6, 2019 (Rancho Cuyamaca State Park) – A motorcycle crash off State Route 79 near Green Valley Campground charred approximately six acres of brush today.  Around 70 firefighters from multiple agencies battled the #GreenFire by land and air, extinguishing it several hours after it began.

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FIRE WEATHER FORECAST

East County News Service
 
October 6, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – The National Weather Service predicts moderate Santa Ana winds this week, combined with low humidity for elevated fire danger.
 
While Orange County is forecast to have the most severe conditions,  relative humidity is expected to fall into low double digits in San Diego’s mountain areas and single digits in the desert.  West to northwest winds of 15-20 miles per hour with gusts up to 40 mph are anticipated starting Tuesday. By Thursday and Friday, falling humidity is expected to create critical fire weather conditions.  

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$25,000 REWARD OFFERED TO FIND HIT-AND-RUN DRIVER WHO CRITICALLY INJURED BICYCLIST MICHELLE SCOTT, RAMONA CERT TEAM MEMBER

Fundraiser launched to help pay victim’s medical bills

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via ECM news partner 10 News

October 6, 2019 (Ramona) — A $25,000 reward is being offered anonymously for information leading to arrest of the driver of a black Ford Edge SUV with stolen license plates, NBC 7 reports. The vehicle struck and critically injured Ramona bicyclist Michelle Scott last Wednesday morning on State Route 67 north of Dye Road.  


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SDG&E FORMS WILDFIRE SAFETY COMMUNITY ADVISORY COUNCIL TO STRENGTHEN WILDFIRE PREVENTION AND PREPAREDNESS IN THE REGION

Source: SDG&E

 

Photo: SDG&E air crane and helicopters help fight fires

 

October 1, 2019 (San Diego) – As part of its ongoing commitment to strengthen wildfire preparedness and prevention in the region, San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) has formed the SDG&E Wildfire Safety Community Advisory Council, a group of diverse local leaders from public safety, tribal government, business, nonprofit, and academic organizations who will provide feedback and recommendations on how SDG&E can continue to protect the region from wildfires.


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FROM THE FIRE CHIEF’S CORNER: NOT EVERY HERO WEARS A CAPE

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

September 30, 2019 (San Diego) - The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has announced "Not Every Hero Wears a Cape, Plan and Practice Your Escape!" as the theme for Fire Prevention Week, October 6-12, 2019. This year’s campaign recognizes the everyday people who motivate their households to develop and practice a home fire escape plan; these seemingly basic behaviors can have life-saving impact.


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FROM THE FIRE CHIEF’S CORNER: FALLING RIGHT INTO FIRE SEASON

This is the first week of Fall, and with it comes Santa Ana winds!

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

September 27, 2019 (San Diego) - Though fire season is year round, Fall typically brings triple-digit temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds bringing high fire danger and red flag warnings.


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BRUSH FIRE CHARS 52 ACRES IN LAKESIDE

Editor’s note: Due to a problem with our email server yesterday we were unable to send East County Wildfire and Emergency Alerts on this fire. We have resolved the issue.
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo by Robin Pawl
 
September 26, 2019 (Lakeside) – A brush fire scorched 52 acres yesterday afternoon, briefly threatening homes along Willow Road in Lakeside. Some residences were evacuated, though at least one homeowner stayed in her home with her horses and family, watching wind-whipped embers rekindle the blaze as firefighters battled to save homes. 

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