Wildfire News

SWEETWATER FIRE CONTAINED IN JAPATUL AREA

 

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alert Service

Photo: Brush Fire Partyline on Facebook

 

December 8, 2017 (Japatul) -- Firefighters have contained an 8-10 acre brush fire that started south of I-8 near the Japatul exit in Cleveland National Forest.

Multiple units responded from The U.S. Forest Service, Cal Fire, Viejas Fire, Alpine and Lakeside Fire departments to the Sweetwater Fire.

UPDATES ON LILAC FIRE: HELP AVAILABLE FOR EVACUEES AND THOSE WITHOUT POWER

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: SDG&E mobile command north of I-8 at Japatul has free wi-fi, charging stations and water for those affected by power outages in East County.

December 8, 2017 (San Diego) -- President Donald Trump has issued a disaster declaration for San Diego County due to the Lilac Fire to maximize firefighting resources and the military is also providing aircrafts to fight the fires. The declaration does not cover rebuilding for fire survivors, which could be made through a separation action later.

The National Weather Service’s revised forecast now indicates high winds will continue through Sunday, so the danger of new fires remains high and all residents are asked to refrain from any activities that could spark a fire.

Countywide, thousands remain without power, many due to planned outages to prevent ignition, others due to damaged equipment and fires. But more help is now available.

RESIDENTS VOICE ANGER OVER POWER OUTAGES

Photo, left: Map of outages in San Diego County as of 7:45 a.m. today.

December 8, 2017 (San Diego's East County) -- SDG&E has sent warnings to 170,000 San Diego County residents to be prepared for power shutdowns due to the high fire danger posed by strong Santa Ana winds. The utility has already shut off power to thousands of homes in communities across our region including portions of Alpine, Bonsall,  Boulevard, Campo, Cuyamaca, Descanso, Fallbrook, Jamul, Julian, Mount Laguna, Potrero, Ramona, Santa Ysabel, Vista and more.

The utility has warned residents that their power could remain off for several days until it can be safely restored. The shut-offs, meant to prevent powerline fires such as those that ignited the 2007 firestorms, are sparking concerns and outrage among some residents, particularly in rural areas. 

Electric well pumps don’t work with the power out, leaving no way to provide water for people or livestock.  Some rural areas lack cell phone service, leaving people with no way to learn about wildfires or other emergencies, unless they have a backup generator. Many residents are also shivering in cold temperatures dipping into the 40s at night, some left without electric heating.

GOVERNOR DECLARES EMERGENCY OVER LILAC FIRE IN NORTH COUNTY

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesy ECM news partner 10 News

Update December 8, 2017 8:45 a.m.:  Cal Fire reports the fire has burned 65 structures but remains at 4,100 acres. Evacuation orders now extend west to Camp Pendleton.  Four civilian injuries and two firefighter injuries have occurred. 

December 7, 2017 (San Diego) – Governor Jerry Brown has issued an emergency declaration over the Lilac Hills Fire, which has scorched over 4,100 acres in the Fallbrook-Bonsall area. The County has also declared an emergency.

The devastating blaze is burning southwest and is still zero percent contained.  It started at 11:15 a.m. west of I-15 and north of Lilac Road on the Pala Mesa.

By this evening, at least 20 homes have burned, County Emergency Services reports. That includes numerous residences in the Rancho Manserate Country Club community.  An estimated 5,000 more residences are threatened.  Two people suffered burns and have been taken to a hospital.

Dozens of horses have died including many at the San Luis Rey training center, Times of San Diego reports. In Bonsall, numerous horses were let loose, running wildly through billowing smoke, a photo posted by Horses so Fine on Instagram states, adding, “Pray for them.”  Community volunteers have come forward to help save many horses and the Del Mar Fairgrounds has opened facilities for livestock including horses.

WINDS TOPPLE TREES, TIP OVER TRUCKS

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 7, 2017 (San Diego) -- High winds roaring through San Diego County today have wreaked havoc. 

In Carlsbad, a tree fell onto an elderly man and killed him.  Santa Ana winds knocked a semi-truck and trailer onto their sides on I-8 east, shortly before high winds forced closure of I-8 east of Alpine.  A sign truck was nearly blown off the towering Pine Valley Bridge.  In Lakeside the community Christmas tree toppled over; Lakeside's Chamber of Commerce posted a photo on Facebook, vowing to restore it after the winds die down.

Strong winds also led SDG&E to shut off power to thousands of homes in communities across the region, with some slated to be without power for days.

LILAC FIRE IN FALLBROOK-BONSALL AREA

 

 

Update 4 p.m.  The fire is now 2,000 acres and still 0 percent contained, per Cal Fire. New evacuation orders: South of Hwy 76 West of I-15 Freeway North of Gopher Canyon Rd, East of East Village Way & Mission Rd.

Update 3 p.m.:  Lilac Fire is now 500 acres and 0 percent contained. County Emergency Services warns of "dangerous fires" in North County. EW evacuation warnings are in effect: North of Pala Rd., South of Reche  Rd., West of I-15 Freeway, East of Green Canyon Rd. & W. Mission Rd.  Cal Fire is excercising its option to get military helicopters as well as San Diego Fire & Rescue night-flying helicopters.

For highway closure info check here:  https://www.sigalert.com/map.asp?lat=33.31155&lon=-117.34502&z=1

Three temporary evacaution shelters have been set up at Fallbrook High School, Pechanga Casino and Pala Casino. The Del Mar Fairgrounds is accepting large animals.

Update 1:30 p.m.  The Lilac Fire is now 175 acres, Cal Fire reports.  Two structures have been burned.

December 7, 2017 (Fallbrook) -- The Lilac Fire is burning in North County near the Interstate 15 and State Route 76 junction in the Fallbrook-Bonsall area.  Several southbound lanes on I-15 are shut down due to the fast-moving blaze fueled by 30-40 mph winds.

 
A mobile home park and Sullivan School west of highway 395 have been evacuated.  
 

RED CROSS OPENS EMERGENCY SHELTERS DUE TO POWER OUTAGES

December 7, 2017 (San Diego) -- The American Red Cross is opening two emergency shelters this morning at 9:00 a.m. in support of residents impacted by power outages. The shelters are in El Cajon and Escondido. ECM has contacted the County to ask why shelters have not been opened in mountain and rural areas, where many of the outages have occurred and ratepayers have been advised power could remain off for up to five days due to the high winds and extreme fire danger.

At this time, SDG&E reports more than 5,000 customers are without power. Extreme fire weather continues in San Diego County today.

Per County Emergency Services, here are the shelter locations:

SDG&E SHUTS POWER OFF TO 1,326 CUSTOMERS: MAY BE DOWN FOR DAYS

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 6, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) – Tonight SDG&E has shut off power due many areas across East County and North County due to “an extreme weather event with high winds and dry conditions,” according to SDG&E’s website, which warns, “Current conditions indicate that power may remain out for several days before it can be safely restored. If your power is out, please be sure you have adequate emergency supplies on hand for an extended period of time and check here for the most current information on expected restoration times.”

The action comes just days after the California Public Utilities Commission ruled that SDG&E cannot bill ratepayers for its uninsured losses from the 2007 firestorms, when state regulators found its power lines responsible for three major fires.

SDGE WARNS 170,000 TO BE PREPARED FOR POWER OUTAGES AS HIGH WINDS HIT AREA

Public urged to use caution to avoid infernos like those scorching Los Angeles and Ventura

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Thirdiphoto: Skirball Fire created hellacious conditions that shut down the 405 freeway today near the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

December 6, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) – High winds fueling devastating fires in Los Angeles are set to hit San Diego County tomorrow, with gusts of 70 mph or more in some areas. Currently no fires are burning in San Diego County, though smoke from a fire in Mexico is visible near the border.  But the situation could turn perilous quickly if new fires start.  National Weather Forecaster Alex Tardy says Santa Ana winds could blow a fire in the inland area all the way to the coast.

RED FLAG WARNING EXTENDED THROUGH SATURDAY AS FIRES SCORCH SEVERAL COUNTIES

 

By Miriam Raftery

East County Wildfire and Emergency Alerts

December 6, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) – With wind gusts forecast up to 90 miles an hour in San Diego’s mountains and valleys, along with low humidity, the National Weather Service is warning of the potential for explosive wildfires.  A red flag warning has been extended to Saturday evening.

Adding to the danger, many firefighters statewide are deployed to fight major fires burning in Ventura, Los Angeles and San Bernadino Counties, so mutual aide resources could be stretched thin if major fires develop in San Diego County.

BE PREPARED FOR POWER OUTAGES, SDG&E WARNS

 

By Miriam Raftery


December 6, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) – SDG&E is warning East County residents of potential power outages this week due to high fire danger. On Tuesday, the utility did shut off power to the Descanso and Cuyamaca areas for several hours during gusty Santa winds, after initially warning that power could remain off until Friday to prevention ignition of power lines.

It’s important to be prepared for outages.  During wildfires in Northern California last month, several people died because they were unable to evacuate. After the power went out, some elderly residents could not disconnect automatic garage door openers or lift heavy garage doors, so they were unable to get their vehicles out.

MAJOR FIRES IN VENTURA, LOS ANGELES, RIVERSIDE AND SAN BERNADINO COUNTIES

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo courtesty Ventura County Fire Department

December 5, 2017 (San Diego) – At least 150 families have lost their homes just weeks before the holidays, due to fast moving brush fires fueled by Santa Winds across southern California. 

Most devastating is the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, which has scorched 50,000 acres and forced 30,000 people to evacuate; the blaze is 50% contained.  In Los Angeles County, the Creek Fire has burned 11,000 acres with no containment thus far;  the Rye Fire charred 5,000 acres and is 50% contained. 

In San Bernadino County, the Meyers Fire forced shut down of Highway 15 and Highway 215 though most lanes are now reopened.  It charred 35 acres and is 50% contained.

BURNED OUT? ROBBED? ACCIDENT VICTIM? TAX BILL TAKES AWAY DEDUCTIONS FOR PERSONAL CASUALTY LOSSES

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 4, 2017 (San Diego) – If you lose your home or personal property in a natural disaster such as a wildfire or earthquake, or suffer theft, accident or vandalism, you won’t be able to deduct those property losses off your taxes after December. That’s because both the Senate and House versions of the Republicans’ tax bill eliminates these tax breaks.

RED FLAG WARNING: CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER

 

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

Updated December 4, 2017

December 2, 2017 (San Diego) – The National Weather Service in San Diego is warning of prolonged, critical fire conditions in all areas of our county starting Monday morning through the end of the week. 

A red flag alert is in effect for coastal, mountain and valley areas through Thursday due to low humidity, above average temperatures and strong offshore winds.  A high wind warning has also been issued, with Santa Ana winds at 20 to 30 miles per hour and gusts up to 55 miles an hour forecast.

53 MEMBERS OF CONGRESS PRESS FOR DISASTER AID FOR CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE SURVIVIVORS, INCLUDING ALL SAN DIEGO MEMBERS

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Smouldering remains of a mobile home park burned in the Tubbs Fire in October 2017;  CC by ATS

December 2, 2017 (Washington D.C.) – Yesterday, 53 members of Congress including all five San Diego-area representatives signed a letter sent to House Appropriations Committee leaders urging that $4.4 billion to aid California wildfire survivors be added to a disaster relief fund. 

The action comes after President Donald Trump previously ignored pleas from California legislators and Governor Jerry Brown, sending a measure to Congress that included funds for hurricane survivors in Texas and Florida, but not a penny to help those who lost homes, businesses or family members in the October California firestorms.

FATAL FIRE IN LAKESIDE

 

 

Upate December 4, 2017: The victim has been identified as Kenneth Owens, 76.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Lakeside Fire Chief Don Butz, on Facebook

December 1, 2017 (Lakeside) – A fire shortly after 4 a.m. this morning ruptured oxygen tanks, swiftly engulfing a home in the 9700 block of Emerald Hill Lane in Lakeside.  A 76-year-old man died in the fire after suffering second and third degree burns, but three other family members escaped, Patch.com reports. 

Fire crews from Lakeside, Santee, and Heartland Fire and Rescue responded to the fire, pulling out the victim who was declared dead at the scene, 10 News reports.  The blaze took a half hour to bring under control.

CPUC BURNS SDG&E EFFORT TO CHARGE RATEPAYERS FOR 2007 WILDFIRES

 

 

“We will vigorously pursue all available avenues to overturn this decision.“ -- Lee Schavrien, SDG&E senior vice president and regulatory officer

By Miriam Raftery

 

 November 30, 2017 (San Diego) – Ten years after the 2007 firestorms, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) ruled today that San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) cannot charge ratepayers $379 million for the utility’s uninsured losses due to damages in the 2007 firestorms.  By a unanimous decision, the CPUC ruled that SDG&E did not reasonably manage and operate its equipment, which Cal Fire found caused or contributed to the Witch, Guejito and Rice fires.

SAVING THOSE WHO SAVE OTHERS: A RETIRED CHIEF AIMS TO STOP FIREFIGHTER SUICIDES

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 22, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) – Last year, 69 firefighters in the U.S. died in the line of duty, the National Fire Protection Association reports. But far more --139–took their own lives.

So far this year, 86 firefighters have been lost through suicide—including Cal Fire Captain Ryan Mitchell, who killed himself at the Pine Valley Bridge in San Diego’s East County earlier this month.

Jeff Dill, CEO and founder of the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance (www.ffbha.org) , is determined to save firefighters’ lives  through special workshops designed by a firefighter, for a firefighter.

TRUMP REFUSES DISASTER AID SUPPORT FOR CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE VICTIMS; FEDS PROVIDE NOT ONE PENNY

 

Update: An earlier version of this article stated that only one of California's Congressional Republicans joined with Democrats in signing a letter to President Trump asking for disaster aid for the fire victims.  The article has been updated to include a separate letter signed by Congressman Duncan Hunter and Darrell Issa, both San Diego Republicans, asking Trump for the disaster aid.

By Miriam Raftery

November 23, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) – Just in time for Thanksgiving, President Donald Trump’s White House sent Congress a skimpy disaster relief funding request that includes not one penny for survivors of the worst wildfires in California history, those that ravaged the wine region and other areas recently.  The measure provided only bare-bones funding for states that suffered hurricane damage.

CA LEGISLATORS TO INTRODUCE BILL TO BLOCK ELECTRIC UTILITIES FOUND AT FAULT FOR WILDFIRES FROM MAKING CUSTOMERS PAY

 

Senator also sends CPUC letter voicing concern over delays in voting on a staff proposal to deny SDG&E’s request to charge ratepayers for 2007 fire losses

East County News Service

November 23, 2017 (Sacramento) – State Senator Jerry Hill, joined by Senators Mike McGuire and Scott Wiener and Assemblymembers Marc Levine and Jim Wood, have announced that they will introduce legislation in January to prevent electric utilities found culpable in wildfires from passing the costs for claims not covered by insurance as well as fines or penalties onto customers.

FIRE WEATHER FORECAST

East County WIldfire and Emergency Alerts

November 22, 2017 (San Diego's East County) -- Elevated fire conditions are forecast for today, continuing on Thanksgiving.  While conditions should cool over the weekend, fire danger returns Monday due to extremely hot, dry conditions and Santa Ana winds, the National Weather Service predicts.

 Already this Thanksgiving week,  many places in San Diego County have experienced record-breaking temperatures for the season. Highs reached into the 90s in El Cajon, Ramona, Escondido and other local communities.

GROSSMONT HEALTHCARE DISTRICT CONTINUES SUPPORT TO SAN DIEGO REGIONAL FIRE & EMERGENCY SERVIES FOUNDATION

 

East County News Service

November 20, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) -- The Grossmont Healthcare District (GHD) is continuing its support of the San Diego Regional Fire & Emergency Services Foundation (Fire Foundation) with a $116,459 grant for mobile data computers (MDCs), which will provide address and mapping information to first responders during medical emergencies and brush fires in rural back country areas of the county.

ALL LANES ON SOUTHBOUND I-5 CLOSED SUNDAY AND MONDAY NIGHTS

 

 

 

East County News Service

November 17, 2017 (San Diego) — Caltrans crews will close all southbound lanes of Interstate 5 (I-5) from the Interstate 805 merge to La Jolla Village Drive Sunday and Monday night from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. the following morning for bridge work.

All motorists will be detoured to southbound I-805, to westbound State Route 52, to the SR-52/I-5 interchange.

Crews will be working on two separate bridge projects. One is the construction of the Gilman Drive Bridge project, the other is bridge maintenance at the I-5 Sorrento Valley Viaduct, this pavement work will take place on the main lanes of I-5.

SEE SMOKE? FIREFIGHTERS TRAINING AT VALHALLA HIGH SCHOOL THIS WEEKEND



By Miriam Raftery

November 18, 2017 (Rancho San Diego)--San Miguel Fire District along with Heartland Fire Rescue and Santee Fire Department will be conducting fire and rescue training this weekend at Vahalla High School, located at 1725 Hillsdale Road in the Rancho San Diego area of unincorporated El Cajon.

The fire rescue drill will be Saturday November 18 and Sunday November 19 from 9am to 3pm.  Smoke machines will be used during training - neighbors might see smoke coming from the school during these training events.

READER’S EDITORIAL: CITIZEN’S INITIATIVE TO REPEAL AND REPLACE JULIAN-CUYAMACA FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT BENEFIT FEE

 

By Pat Landis

November 10, 2017 (Julian) -- Citizens residing within the boundaries of the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD) are proposing for adoption the repeal of the existing annual benefit fee approved in 1984, to be replaced with an annual benefit fee more consistent with current expenses, and to raise the level of service for emergency medical response, fire suppression and related services within the boundaries of JCFPD.

NEW ALERT SDG&E CAMERAS PROVE TO BE CRITICAL FIRE WATCH TOOLS FOR REGION

 

Devices improve fire detection and protect communities

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alert Service Service

November 8, 2017 (San Diego) – The public, firefighters, and SDG&E crews can now watch for fires in real time on 15 new video cameras across San Diego county. You can view them here.

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