Wildfire News

JULIAN FIREFIGHTERS HOST SPAGHETTI DINNER TO FILL “BLESSING BOX”

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 19, 2019 (Julian) – The community is invited to a spaghetti dinner hosted by the Julian Cuyamaca Firefighters Association on Sunday, January 20 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Bring a non-perishable food item to share for the Julian Blessing Box, a free food pantry that helps people in need.


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FREE DISASTER PREPAREDNESS CERT TRAINING STARTS MARCH 23

 

 

Source: Monica Zech, City of El Cajon

January 16, 2019 (El Cajon) -- Will you know what to do in the case of a wildfire, a home fire, or earthquake?  The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness and the hazards that may impact the area they live. Applications are now being accepted.


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WHAT DOES THE PG&E BANKRUPTCY MEAN FOR CALIFORNIA RATEPAYERS AND FIRE VICTIMS?

By Miriam Raftery

January 15, 2019 (San Diego) – Facing enormous potential liabilities for major wildfires in Califiornia, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) has announced that it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on January 29th.

 Cal Fire has blamed PG&E powerlines and other equipment for causing 17 fires in 2017.  The company’s equipment is also being investigated as a likely cause of the deadly Camp Fire that killed 86 people and burned nearly 14,000 homes in Butte County. The utility was also found criminally liable for the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion in 2010.


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FEDERAL SHUTDOWN HALTS CONTROLLED BURNS IN CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST

By Miriam Raftery

File photo: Dead trees smoulder during controlled burn in San Diego’s East County

January 10, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – Putting all San Diego County residents at higher risk of a major wildfire, winter controlled burning of two to three thousand acres in Cleveland National Forest have been put on hold due to the federal shutdown, fire officials have advised ECM news partner 10 News.


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TRUMP THREATENS TO HALT FEMA PAYMENTS TO CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE VICTIMS, DRAWS BIPARTISAN CRITICISM

 

 

To threaten federal disaster funding is a grave insult to our fire-scarred region and a slap in the face of our brave firefighters. The President and the Governor need to work together and put the public’s safety over politics. I know the county will do its part by continuing to make major investments to improve firefighting and fire prevention.  Supervisor Dianne Jacob

By Miriam Raftery

January 10, 2019 (San Diego) -- President Donald Trump on Wednesday stating that he has ordered a halt to Federal Emergency Management Act (FEMA) funds for California wildfire survivors. His threat has drawn sharp bipartisan criticism from leaders ranging from California’s new Governor to East County’s Supervisor Dianne Jacoband conservative legislators representing fire-ravaged communities.


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FROM THE FIRE CHIEF’S CORNER: FIRE WEATHER WATCH AND WIND SAFETY TIPS

 

 

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

December 31, 2018 (San Diego) -- Fire Danger is not the only hazard we have to concern ourselves with during high winds and red flag warnings.


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CAL FIRE/COUNTY FIRE AUTHORITY ORDERS REMOVAL OF PROTECTIVE GEAR FROM JULIAN-CUYAMACA VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS

CAL FIRE/County Fire Authority moves out of JCFPD fire station, returns to former office in Julian.

New JCFPD board puts Chief Van Bibber back in charge; radio service also restored for volunteer firefighters.

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

VIDEO of December 13 JCFPD Board Meeting

December 28, 2018 (Julian)--The knockdown, drag-out fight between CAL FIRE and the San Diego County Fire Authority versus the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD) went another round last week when County Supervisors voted to hold a special election in Julian this spring.

Julian citizens gathered enough signatures to put the fate of the JCFPD to a direct special election vote on Mar. 19, 2019. But Supervisors’ decision to confirm the people’s right to vote on saving the county’s last volunteer fire district from a county takeover has done little to heal the smarting.

Cal OSHA was called out on Nov. 30 to Julian Fire Station 56 to enforce an order by County Fire Authority Chief Jeremi Roesler requiring that all JCFPD firefighter Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) be inspected and inventoried. He unilaterally directed that all firefighter “turnouts” or PPE gloves, jackets, helmets – be inspected and inventoried for official reasons unknown to him. Each set of PPE or “turnouts” is worth about $4,000 dollars.

Instead of notifying the JCFPD or volunteer firefighters beforehand of the inspection, the search was conducted unannounced and numerous pieces of gear were removed from service. The Sheriff was notified when firefighters’ personal property was allegedly taken.


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PINE VALLEY CELEBRATES OPENING OF NEW FIRE STATION

 

Another new fire station opened in the backcountry Tuesday, strengthening fire safety for a number of outlying communities.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place in Pine Valley and celebrated the opening of a two-story, 13,090-square-foot fire station that is almost double the size of the previous building. The structure is designed for full-time firefighters and replaces a facility that was built in 1974.


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EXPERTS OUTLINE ALTERNATIVES FOR BACKING UP ELECTRICAL POWER

Source: Alpine-Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce

Photo by Jenne Bergstrom, Alpine Library

December 19, 2018 (Alpine) -- A raging thunderstorm overhead added emphasis to the importance of having a backup electrical source during a free public forum at the Alpine Library.

Four experts provided information to homeowners and others during the Dec. 6 session, hosted by the library at 1752 Alpine Blvd.


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PRIVATE JULIAN PATIENT DATA BREACHED AMID 11-DAY HARD DRIVE LOSS, FIRE OFFICIALS FEAR

 

Update December 26, 2018 -- Patient data was not on the missing hard drive, long-time Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District Chief Mike Van Bibber has informed EMC. Patients' information was on a county server instead.

By Ken Stone

Reprinted with permission by Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  photo taken Tuesday after backup hard drive was discovered missing. Photo via Brian Kramer

December 12, 2018 (Julian) - Julian fire district officials and local authorities are looking into the possible theft of private medical information and employee records from a backup hard drive.

According to Julian-Cuyamaca fire board member Brian Kramer, the external hard drive with possibly years of data went missing Dec. 1 from a locked room at the Julian fire station on state Route 79.


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BORREGO SPRINGS CELEBRATES NEW LIBRARY, PARK AND SHERIFF'S OFFICE

 

 

It’s official, the new County Library, park and Sheriff’s office are open for business in Borrego Springs. A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony took place this afternoon, kicking off a community celebration with music, artists, animals and tours of the new library and Sheriff’s office. The two buildings and park all share a 19-acre property.

The library branch is the larger of the two buildings and sits on 2.6 acres. The facility measures three times the size of the previous one and includes 2,215 square feet of community meeting space, a 330 square foot conference room, separate areas for children and teens, a technology center with a 3D printer, and a Friends of the Library Book Nook and Conversation Café.


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FLASH FLOOD WARNINGS AND WATCHES ISSUED

December 6, 2018 (San Diego) -- The National Weather Service has issued flash flood watchings, warnings and advisories across our region. A flash flood warning, the most severe alert, is in effect now through 8:30 p.m. for  Chula Vista, Descanso, El Cajon, National City, La Mesa, Poway, Imperial Beach, Ramona, Coronado, Alpine , portions of the San Diego city  limits, and Mission Valley.  An advisory is in effect for a broader area spanning the entire county from coasts to deserts.

Thunderstorms are producing heavy rain across the warned area.  A half to nearly an inch of rain has already fallen with another inch or more expected. 

Do not attempt to drive across a flooded roadway and stay indoors during thunder and lightning.


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HOW TO SURVIVE A SIGNIFICANT EARTHQUAKE

 

 

The Anchorage, Alaska 7.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami warning, which was later canceled, reminds us all to be prepared for these kinds of unpredictable disasters. Having a disaster plan and supplies and practicing your response with your family could mean escaping serious harm.

Residents who live in seismic zones like San Diego County should know what to do before, during and after a significant earthquake. Most people who are killed or injured during earthquakes are hurt by falling objects around them.


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CAMP FIRE EXTINGUISHED AS RELIEF EFFORTS CONTINUE

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 26, 2018 (San Diego) -- The deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history is finally fully contained. The Camp Fire scorched over 153,000 acres and destroying 18,000 structures, including 14,000 homes. At least 85 people died and around 250 remain missing, though thats far fewer than the over 1,000 listed as missing in the fireimmediate aftermath.


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RESIDENTS BATTLED FLAMES IN EL MONTE, CITING FEARS THAT A SAND MINE MAY BLOCK EVACUATION IN FUTURE FIRES

 

An East County Magazine exclusive report

View video with exclusive interviews:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=984eIPcneAo or click the image above.

 

By Ana Nita

 

November 19, 2018 (Lakeside) – “I don’t know what started it,”  says El Monte Valley resident Dianna Alotta, who works and lives at a horse ranch close to where the #ElMonteFire began on Sunday afternoon. After her husband told her that a fire was burning, she recalls, “I looked over and there’s smoke, so I came running back here.” She adds, “Thank God a bunch of other people, neighbors and stuff pulled together, got the horses out of the danger range.”


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JULIAN ELECTION SET FOR MARCH 19 TO VOTE ON SAVING FIRE DISTRICT

 

 

New members to replace no-shows on fire board at Dec. 11 meeting

By Miriam Raftery

November 20, 2018 (Julian) – A special election will be held in the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD) on March 19 for voters to decide whether to save the county’s last volunteer firefighting district. If over 50% of voters vote yes on the citizens’ initiative, it will reverse the county’s Local Agency Formation District vote that had approved dissolving the district and having the County Fire Authority/Cal Fire takeover all firefighting duties.


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BRUSH FIRE IN LAKESIDE NEAR LAKE JENNINGS

Update 3:30 p.m.: The fire is now 8 acres, Lakeside Fire reports, but the spread is slowing and no structues are threatened.

 

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

Photo by Rose Masters

November 18, 2018 (Lakeside) -- Cal Fire and Lakeside Fire are in unified command battling to suppress the #ElMonteFire that began shortly before 3 p.m. today in the 14000 block of El Monte Road. The blaze has burned approximately a half acre of brush in the riverbed but no structures are currently threatened, Cal Fire reports. The fire is spreading at a moderate rate.

The incident commander has requested closure of El Monte Road at Lake Jennings Road, Brush Fire Party Line reports. Aerial firefighting aicraft are now at the scene.


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GOT POWER? DEC. 6 FORUM IN ALPINE ON GENERTAORS, SOLAR BATTERY BACKUPS AND MORE EMERGENCY POWER OPTIONS

 

 

East County News Service

November 18, 2018 (Alpine)  Be prepared for power outages! The Alpine Library will host a forum for you to learn more about generators, solar battery backup and other residential emergency power options on Thursday, December 6 at 5:30 p.m.  


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EAST COUNTY RESIDENTS AIR ISSUES OVER OUTAGES

By Miriam Raftery

November 16, 2018 (San Diego’s East County)—With wildfires raging in northern and southern California, where power lines are suspected of causing deadly blazes,  residents in San Diego’s rural and mountain communities have been grappling with serious challenges posed, conversely, by a utility company shutting off power to some 30,000 residences during high winds this week in an effort to prevent fires.

Backcountry blogs sizzled as residents eventually able to access the internet posted a litany of complaints including life-threatening issues.


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630 MISSING AS CONFIRMED DEATH TOLL RISES TO 60 IN CAMP FIRE

 

Tragedy raises questions on evacuation notifications, causes and potential utility liability; locally concerns rise over power outages and building in areas where a wildfire could cause  traffic gridlock and mass fatalities

By Miriam Raftery

November 16, 2018 (San Diego) – The Camp Fire’s grim toll has risen to 60 confirmed deaths while the list of missing has skyrocketed to 630 as authorities review 911 calls and other reports.  The Paradise Post has published a list of those missing in the state’s deadliest wildfire, which thus far has burned 142,000 acres. The Post has dropped bundles of its newspapers off at evacuation shelters, since delivery is impossible in a town where 90% of the buildings are now gone.

The blaze has destroyed 9,600 homes and 230 commercial buildings in Butte County, leveling the town of Paradise and also causing severe damage in several nearby communities north of Sacramento. The fire is now 45% contained.

But even those who survived without losing homes or businesses may suffer long term adverse health impacts due to air polluted by chemicals that have burned as the fire scorched through urban areas.   Air quality is rated hazardous across the Sacramento Valley and into San Francisco, where trolley car service has been temporarily halted due to the air pollution.

Meanwhile questions remain as to why so many were trapped and unable to escape. Most of those who perished were elderly and some who did get out report that they received no emergency warnings or evacuation notices. Authorities awaiting confirmation from fire officials reportedly got notices out too late for some residents closest to the monster wind-driven fire.


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FIVE SCHOOL DISTRICTS CLOSE WEDNESDAY DUE TO POWER OUTAGES

 

Update Nov. 13: Jamul-Dulzura has been added to the list of school districts closed today.

East County News Service

November 12, 2018 (San Diego's East County) -- Four East County school districts will be closed tomorrow because San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) has activated a public safety power shutoff in some rural areas of the County. The following districts' schools wil be closed: 

  • Jamul Dulzura Union School District
  • Julian Union School District
  • Julian Union High School District
  • Mountain Empire Unified School District
  • Spencer Valley School District

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LOCAL RESIDENTS RECOUNT FAMILY LOSSES IN PARADISE

Image may contain: tree, sky, plant, outdoor and nature

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 12, 2018 (San Diego) – The Camp Fire that turned Paradise, California into a scene out of hell has impacted family members of several local residents. A fundraiser to help the Camp Fire victims has been set up here:  https://www.facebook.com/donate/552862868514901/


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SDG&E OPENS 4 COMMUNITY RESOURCE CENTERS TO PROVIDE SUPPORT DURING OUTAGES AND RED FLAG WARNINGS

Source: SDG&E

November 12, 2018 (San Diego's East County) -- With the multi-day Red Flag Warning in effect through Tuesday, Nov. 13, 5 p.m., SDG&E has opened four of our nine Community Resource Centers to support residents who may lose power because of the extreme weather conditions.

  1. Mountain Empire – Mountain Empire High School Gymnasium, 3305 Buckman Springs Road, Campo CA 91906
  2. Potrero – Potrero Resource Center, 24550 Hwy 94, Potrero, CA 91963
  3. Descanso – Camp Oliver Lodge, 8761 Riverside Drive A, Descanso, CA 91916
  4. Campo – Golden Acorn Casino & Travel Center, 1800 Golden Acorn Way, Campo, CA 91906

At these facilities, residents can get water and snacks, charge their phones, and get up-to-date information on outages.


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OUTAGES REPORTED ACROSS EAST COUNTY: STEPS TO TAKE TO PREPARE FOR POWER INTERRUPTIONS



East County News Service



November 12, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) – SDG&E’s outages site reports power outages in multiple rural communities, some planned to prevent fires during high winds, others unplanned. Power is currently out in the vicinities of Alpine, Campo, Jacumba, Potrero, Jamul, Mount Laguna, Descanso, Cuyamaca and Pine Valley.

Here are some steps you should take to be prepared for outages and evacuations. If you have additional tips to share, please post them in our comments section:


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RED FLAG WARNING EXTENDED TO TUESDAY AS WILDFIRES ENGULF CALIFORNIA: CAMP FIRE NOW DEADLIEST IN STATE’S HISTORY

 

Update November 14, 2018:  Updated information from Cal Fire indicates there are now at least 48 people confirmed killed in the Camp Fire, with over 100 still missing.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left:  U.S. Forest Service has 250 firefighters helping to battle the Camp Fire.

November 11, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) – A red flag warning for San Diego County and much of Southern California has been extended through Tuesday as three major wildfires continue to scorch the state.  Terrified evacuees posted videos such as this one, shot by a woman escaping through tunnels of fire along a freeway north of Los Angeles: https://twitter.com/i/status/1061430443134734339.


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TRUMP FANS FLAMES BY BLAMING WILDFIRES ON CALIFORNIA, THREATENING TO WITHHOLD FEDERAL FUNDS

 

By Julie Cart, CALmatters

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

November 11, 2018 (San Diego) - With a quarter-million Californians evacuated from their homes and wildfires so far claiming nine lives, President Donal Trump today took to Twitter and inflamed tensions—blaming California for causing the fires by mismanaging its forests and threatening to cut off federal funds.


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MASSIVE WILDFIRES BURNING IN LOS ANGELES, VENTURA AND BUTTE COUNTIES

By Miriam Raftery

November 9, 2018 (San Diego) – Three major, fast-burning wildfires have forced more than 100,000 evacuations in southern and northern California and shut down a major freeway, with the entire state now under a red flag warning. 


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MEASURE TO KEEP JULIAN-CUYAMACA FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT INDEPENDENT QUALIFIES FOR FUTURE BALLOT, BUT FIRE FEE HIKE FAILS

By Miriam Raftery

November 9, 2018 (Julian) – This week brought good news and bad news for Julian residents fighting to halt a county takeover of the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District and save the county’s last all-volunteer fire department.

A citizens’ protest petition seeking to reverse the vote by the Local Agency Formation Agency (LAFCO) to dissolve the fire district obtained enough signatures to qualify for a future ballot, the Registrar of Voters informed advocates this week.  That’s a tough hurdle, since the requirement is more than 50% of property owners in the district. 

“We did it! We are the only ones in the history of LAFCO to ever get this far!” Lori Foss, a supporter of the petition and survivor of the Cedar and Witch fires, stated in an email to East County Magazine on Election Day.


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RED FLAG WARNING TODAY AND FRIDAY

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

November 8, 2018 (San Diego) – The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for high fire danger, in effect from 10 a.m. today through 10 p.m. Friday in San Diego and Orange Counties.  Northeast winds of 20 ot 30 miles per hour are forecast near passes and canyons, with gusts up to 65 miles an hour possible.  Humidity is expected to fall into the 5 to 10 percent range Friday.


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INCUMBENTS WIN REELECTION IN SAN MIGUEL FIRE DISTRICT

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 7, 2018 (Spring Valley) --- A trio of incumbents backed by the firefighters' union won reelection easily in the San Miguel Fire Protection District.

With 39% of districts counted, Theresa McKenna has 33.2%, Jim Ek 27.4%, and Michael Vaio 26.6%, defeating William A. Kiel II, son of board member William Kiel. The younger Kiel, a  trading card company owner with no fire experience, drew just 12.8% of the vote.

The stakes were high in the race, since the three incumbents who won reelection voted to return the district to independent operation, cancelling a contract with Cal Fire. The action passed by a slim one-vote margin, with Kiel, senior, voting against separating from Cal Fire.


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