Wildfire News

BRUSH FIRE DOUSED IN LA MESA

 

By Miriam Raftery

Video by Wayne Zarling taking from Shadow Hill Drive

Photo by Jake Christie

January 2, 2018 (La Mesa) – A female seen running from the scene of a small brush fire on a hill in the Eastridge area of La Mesa today has been detained for questioning by the Sheriff’s department.

Heartland Fire and Rescue, along with San Miguel Fire and San Diego Fire Departments responded to the blaze that began around 1:25 p.m.  Crews arrived within four minutes to find a 20 by 40 foot spot fire on a slope along High Street near State Routes 125 and 94 that grew to approximately an acre before crews halted the forward spread a half hour later.

JULIAN AND CUYAMACA TO LOSE PARAMEDIC ENGINE STARTING JAUNARY 1

 

By Miriam Raftery

Updated 12 p.m. to include comments from Pat Landis.

December 30, 2017 (Julian/Cuyamaca)—On January1st,  the full-time staffed San Diego County Paramedic Fire Engine serving the Julian and Cuyamaca areas will be permanently closed. The action leaves the communities to rely solely on volunteer firefighters and one ambulance for fire and life safety services, which could lead to long delays in medical services if that unit is transportation a patient to a hospital, critics contend.

The paramedic engine had been providing fire and emergency medical response services 24 hours a day, seven days a week under a temporary agreement between the County of San Diego and the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District. The CAL FIRE Firefighters that were assigned to the engine have been reassigned to other facilities within San Diego County.

The action comes after the Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District voted to reject consolidation with the County Fire Department and remain independent—the last remaining volunteer fire department in the County.  Cal Fire firefighters blame the board for the current problems, but a former board member faults the district's fire chief.

CORY IVERSON'S WIDOW TO GRIEVING FIREFIGHTERS: "USE THIS NIGHTMARE TO HELP OTHERS"

 

By Ken Stone, originally published in Times of San Diego, a San Diego Online News Association member

December 24, 2017 (San Diego) - Ashley Iverson slowly inhaled. Then she let out a long breath in front of 1,800 mourners with their hearts in their throats.

“Just breathe is what I told one of my best friends when she lost her soulmate at the age of 22,” Iverson said at Saturday’s private memorial service for her firefighter husband Cory at The Rock Church in Liberty Station.

MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR FALLEN FIREFIGHTER CORY IVERSON TO BE LIVE-STREAMED TODAY

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 23, 2017 (San Diego) — Governor Jerry Brown is expected to attend a memorial service Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Rock Church in  Point Loma to honor Cory D. Iverson, a Cal Fire engineer station in Dulzura who lost his life battling the Thomas Fire in Ventura County.  The service is private, but will be live-streamed for the public to view at www.SDRock.com/Iverson.  

"His bravery and years of committed service to the people of California will never be forgotten," said Governor Brown, who ordered flags at the state capitol flown at half mast.

SDG&E RESPONDS TO OUTAGE CONCERNS, BUT LEGISLATORS HUESO AND VOEPEL IGNORE INQUIRIES

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Dennis Richardson

December 19, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) – SDG&E has responded to our inquiry seeking answers to questions raised by concerned readers during planned outages to 17,000 SDG&E customers due to last week’s high winds, which ECM reported on here and here.

Helen Gao,  communications manager for Sempra Energy,  parent company of SDG&E,  sent the following reply to our questions on topics including loss claims, factors that determine when to shut off power, people with medical needs, support for residents during outages in need of water and communications, adjusting bills to eliminate charges during outages, and what might be done in communities with repeated outages to reduce or eliminate that need in the future.

Below is her response in full, followed by comments from rural residents with contrasting opinions on the outages:

CAL FIRE MAKES PREPARATIONS TO HONOR FALLEN ENGINEER CORY IVERSON

 

Source: Cal Fire

December 18, 2017 (El Cajon) -- CAL FIRE Incident Management Team 6 (IMT 6) has transitioned in partnership with the CAL FIRE San Diego Unit as they make final arrangements for a Celebration of Life to honor Engineer Cory Iverson, who lost his life battling the Thomas Fire in Ventura County. 

PLANE CRASH IN EL CAJON

 

 

 

Update December 19, 2017:  The plane had taken off from Gillespie Field when the pilot reported engine trouble. He was trying to return to the airport when the crash occurred. Two of the three men aboard were officers with the Huntington Beach Police Department. The two officers have been released from the hospital, according to the Orange County Register, but the third man remains hospitalized.

East County WIldfire & Emergency Service

Photos by John Sulser

December 17, 2017 (El Cajon) -- A single engine plane has crashed near Gillespie Way and Weld in El Cajon, close to Gillespie Field, El Cajon Police report.

Witnesses report a pilot, copilot and passenger escaped before the plane caught fire and have been transported to a hospital.

CAUSE OF DEATH, MEMORIAL DETAILS RELEASED ON CORY IVERSON

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 16, 2017 (Dulzura) – Smoke inhalation and burns were the causes of death for Cal Fire engineer Cory Iverson, 32, according to the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s report. The Dulzura-based firefighter and resident of Escondido died in the Fillmore, California area while battling the Thomas Fire. 

WANT POWER DURING OUTAGES? LEARN HOW TO BUY A GENERATOR DEC. 20 AT THE ALPINE LIBRARY

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 15, 2017 (Alpine)—With SDG&E turning off power repeatedly during high winds, having an automatic standby generator can keep your lights on and keep critical systems such as well pumps, refrigerators, and computers operating during outages.  On Wednesday, December 20 at 5 p.m. , a presentation on generators will be held at the Alpine Library, 1752 Alpine Blvd. in Alpine.

Learn about the different types of generators such as propane vs. gas operated and features to consider such as a commercial-grade engine, non-corrosive enclosure and extended warranty. 

CAL FIRE FIREFIGHTER STATIONED AT DULZURA DIES IN THOMAS FIRE

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 14, 2017 (Dulzura) – Cal Fire engineer Cory Iverson, 32, who was stationed in Dulzura, has died of injuries sustained fighting the Thomas Fire in Ventura County this morning.  A resident of Escondido, he leaves behind a 2-year-old daughter, Evie and his wife, Ashley, who is expecting the couple’s second daughter in the spring.

"Today has been a tragic and devastating day," Cal Fire San Diego County Fire Chief Tony Mecham told media at a press conference. "This incident has shaken our organization to the core." He praised Iverson as “a great young man, somebody who really loved his job."

JULIAN FIRE RECALL AND NO CONFIDENCE VOTE RAISE FIERY ISSUES IN MOUNTAIN TOWN

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 14, 2017 (Julian) — The Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District is the only volunteer fire department in our region that has chosen to remain independent.  The department’s board voted recently 4 to 1 vote against dissolving the district and joining the San Diego County Fire Authority (SDCFA), sparking heated debate.

SDG&E RESTORES POWER AFTER PROLONGED OUTAGES; RESIDENTS WHO SUFFERED STRESS AND LOSS WANT CHANGES FOR FUTURE

 

 

Residents angered at loss of water pumps, alarm systems, refrigeration, comunication and heat during outages up to a week in some areas that have suffered repeated outages

By Miriam Raftery

December 12, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) – SDG&E announced last night that it has fully restored power to all customers who were de-energized due to “public safety concerns” following a week-long red flag warning with strong gusty winds, low humidity and dangerous fire conditions.  An SDG&E media release states, “After crews inspected power lines all day in coordination with contract firefighters who were on hand to ensure a safe restoration process, power was turned on for all remaining customers. Field crews patrolled on the ground and in the air. Aerial inspections were completed by five helicopters in rural, mountainous areas."

Power remains out to 56 customers in the Lilac Fire zone in North County, where full restoration is expected early Tuesday evening. All 43 poles damaged in the fire will be replaced with fire-resistant steel poles and thicker, stronger wires, SDG&E indicates, adding, ““We understand that being without power, for any reason, is an inconvenience and we appreciate the patience we have received from our customers.”  For current information on outages and restoration times, visit sdge.com/outage.

Across East County,  many residents in rural, mountain and high desert towns have taken to social media to voice concerns over the prolonged outages.  Although SDG&E says it did provide advance notice to 170,000 customers of possible planned outages due to high winds and fire danger, before shutting off power to many thousands of homes, many rural residents say that’s not enough – and they want changes made. Below are highlights of residents' concerns and proposals.

FIRE WEATHER RETURNS

 

 

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

December 13, 2017 (San Diego's East County) - A red flag warning for high fire danger is in effect today through Thursday. In addition, the National Weather Service is forecasting strong Santa Ana winds this weekend over the mountains, foothills and passes in San Diego County. Wind gusts could reach 50 to 60 miles and hour with sustained easterly or northeasterly winds of 20 to 30 miles per hour.

OUT OF THE ASHES A COMMUNITY IS REBUILT: DEERHORN VALLEY COMES TOGETHER 10 YEARS AFTER THE HARRIS FIRE

 

“It was like a warzone. Fire was everywhere.”

By Kendra Sitton

December 13, 2017 (Deerhorn Valley) -- Michelle Grimaldo got out of her car and hugged her mom goodbye on a fiery night in October of 2007. They were in the middle of the road, with flames on both sides, their way blocked by more fire. She called her husband, but they couldn't hear each other, so she just yelled “Get out! Get out! Get out!” into the phone.

NEW PINE VALLEY FIRE STATION CONSTRUCTION SET TO BEGIN

 

County officials take part in a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Pine Valley Station 44.

December 13, 2017 (Pine Valley) -- County and fire officials broke ground Wednesday on a new $8.2 million fire station that will serve the Pine Valley community for the next 50 years.

“This new station helps deliver on our promise to boost wildfire protection in our most fire-prone communities,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob, chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors. “Since the deadly Cedar Fire in 2003, the county has spent $460 million on fire and emergency service improvements in the backcountry — and this new station builds on that.”

BOARD WAIVES REBUILDING FEES FOR LILAC FIRE VICTIMS

 

The County Board of Supervisors Monday adopted a resolution to waive permit fees for those who have lost their homes in the Lilac Fire.

The resolution means fire victims who plan to rebuild their homes or other damaged structures will get a waiver of plan check fees for the rebuilding of structures damaged or destroyed in the unincorporated area, or other areas where County approvals are required.

ILLEGAL AUTO POLICY MORATORIUMS IN SOUTHLAND WILDFIRE AREAS LEADS REGULATOR TO TAKE ACTION

 

Commissioner also asks insurers to expedite claims handling to aid wildfire victims

Source: California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (left)

December 12, 2017 (Sacramento) - In response to insurers imposing moratoriums on writing new private passenger auto policies or prohibiting additions to existing auto policies in the Southern California wildfire areas, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones issued a formal notice to insurers directing them to cease any and all moratoriums on auto insurance and reminding them that California law prohibits this practice. 

FIRES IN RAMONA AND LEMON GROVE

 

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

December 11, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) -- Cal Fire crews are working a fully-involved structure fire in Ramona in the 21000 block of San Vicente Road in Ramona, Cal Fire reports. According to Brush Fire Partyline on Facebook, scanner traffic indicates this is a residential structure fire at 1166 San Vicente View, just off of San Vicente Road.

Brush rigs have been called in; the location is adjacent to the Barnett Ranch Preserve, a County Preserve.

ARSON REPORTED AT FLETCHER HILLS PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 10, 2017 (El Cajon) – A witness reported seeing a thin, white male wearing a red hoody light a fire intentionally on a hillside near Fletcher Hills Presbyterian Church on Thursday night, then take off running. The suspect remains at large.

2-1-1 SAN DIEGO HELPING, CONNECTING PEOPLE DURING LILAC FIRE; VOLUNTEERS STILL NEEDED AT 2-1-1

 

 

East County News Service

Sunday, December 10, 2017 (San Diego) – 2-1-1 San Diego, an independent local nonprofit that serves as a resource for community, health and disaster services, reports it increased its service capacities in the hours following the outbreak of the fast-moving Lilac Fire in North San Diego County.

LILAC FIRE HAS DESTROYED MANY STRUCTURES, 45 RACE HORSES KILLED

 

Update December 12, 2017  Now 95% contained, the Lilac Fire has destroyed 157 structures and damaged 64 more.  All roads are now open.

Update December 11, 2017:  The Lilac Fire is now 90% contained and all evacuation orders have been lifted.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via Twitter

December 9, 2017 (San Diego) –The Lilac fire has destroyed 105 structures, injured at least five people and killed at least 46 thoroughbred race horses at the famed San Luis Rey Downs facility. 

Another 1,500 structures remained threatened today, Cal Fire reports. Firefighters are holding the fire at 4,100 acres, but full containment may take until December 21st.

The good news is that overnight, firefighters made good progress in increasing containment to 20 percent. Winds were calm this morning but picking up later in the day, with a red flag warning remaining in effect until 8 p.m. Sunday.

IF YOU HAD FOOD SPOIL, BUSINESS INTERRUPTED OR OTHER DAMAGE FROM POWER OUTAGE, YOU CAN SUBMIT A CLAIM

 

Save receipts, take photos, and document your losses

East County News Service

December 8, 2017 (San Diego) – If you suffered damages due to planned power outages, you can submit a claim to SDG&E asking for reimbursement, says Helen Gao. SDG&E has posted information on its website:  https://www.sdge.com/business/services/making-claim or scroll down to view the information provided by the utility:

BOIL WATER ORDERS ISSUED IN BOULEVARD, JULIAN AND CAMPO DUE TO POWER OUTAGES

Update December 9, 2017: A boil water has been aded for Vallecito County Park, 37349 Great Southern Overland in Julian, as well as the sites below.

December 8, 2017 (San Diego's East County)--The County of San Diego, Department of Environmental Health (DEH) has issued a Boil Water Advisory and Public Notification effective immediately for the following:  

  • Boulevard Pines Mobile Home & RV Park at 39375 Old Highway 80, Boulevard, CA 91905
  • Butterfield Ranch at 14925 Great Southern Overland, Julian, CA, 92036
  • Cameron Corners at 31484 Hwy 94, Campo, CA 91906
  • Campo Group at 31471 Hwy 94, Campo, CA 91906 

Due to the recent power outage, these public water systems have lost pressure in their water distribution systems.  As a precaution, Boil Water Advisories are being issued until laboratory results demonstrate the water is free from bacterial contamination. 

Click here for instructions on boiling water and alternative methods of disinfection

ACLU TO MONITOR WILDFIRE VICTIMS' RIGHTS

 

Social service agencies are required by law to provide disaster-related assistance without asking for information or documents

East County News Service

December 8, 2017 (San Diego) -- As wildfires rage in Southern California this week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of San Diego and Imperial Counties is on alert to protect the rights of fire victims in this region.

LOW-INCOME FIRE SURVIVORS TO GET REBUILDING HELP FROM UNITED WAY

 

East County News Service

December 8, 2017 (San Diego) – Wildfires are currently devastating regions of Southern California, with hundreds of thousands of acres destroyed and people displaced from Ventura to San Diego Counties, including the growing Lilac Fire. United Way of San Diego County is working with United Way of Greater Los Angeles, which has set up the Southern California Wildfire Fund to help victims of these fires rebuild their lives. For this fund, 100 percent of the donations collected through this designated fund will support long-term recovery and re-building efforts for low-income families affected by the fires.

WESTINGHOUSE GENERATORS RECALLED

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 8, 2017 (Washington D.C.) – The Consumer Product Safety Commission today announced that Westinghouse Portable Generators have been recalled by MWE Investments because they can overheat, posing a fire hazard: https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2018/Westinghouse-Portable-Generators-Recalled-by-MWE-Investments-Due-to-Fire-Hazard.

READER’S EDITORIAL: WHY ARE CALIFORNIA’S HOMES BURNING? IT ISN’T NATURAL DISASTER, IT’S BAD PLANNING

 

By Richard Halsey

Photo courtesy ECM news partner 10 News

December 8, 2017 (San Diego) - Large, high-intensity wildfires are an inevitable and natural part of life in California. The destruction of our communities is not. But many of the political leaders we elect and planning agencies we depend upon to create safe communities have failed us. They have allowed developers to build in harm’s way, and left firefighters holding the bag.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE VICTIMS COULD TAP INSURANCE FOR EVACUATION COST REIMBURSEMENT

 

Insurance may help evacuated residents even if homes not damaged

Source: California Insurance Commissioner

Photo: ECM news partner 10 News

December 8, 2017 (San Diego) – Thousands of residents in San Diego, Los Angeles and Ventura Counties ordered to evacuate due to wildfires may have homeowner or renter insurance coverage to help with evacuation and relocation costs, even if their homes are not damaged or destroyed, and in many cases no deductible is required.

HAZARDOUS FIRE WEATHER CONTINUES THIS WEEKEND: RED FLAG AND HIGH WIND WARNINGS EXTENDED THROUGH SUNDAY

 

East County News Service

 

December 8, 2017 (San Diego) -- Santa Ana winds will continue this weekend, the National Weather Service advises.  This will combine with very low humidity (5-10% minimums during the days away from the coast and poor nighttime recovery) to bring hazardous fire weather conditions. A red flag warning has been extended until 8 p.m. Sunday from the mountains west to the coast.

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