By Miriam Raftery
Photo by Richard Edwords: Harrowing ride along State Route 94 during Border Fire
September 15, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – The County’s Border Fire 2016 After Action Report presents a review on the regional response to the Border Fire that ignores many serious complaints lodged by rural residents in the fire. The report was written entirely by official agencies and does not include concerns raised by the public, leading rural planning officials, residents and a community news editor to contend the county whitewashed their concerns.
The blaze killed two people , destroyed five homes and left countless animals without care in triple-digit heat while residents were refused access for days after the fire. While residents praise efforts of firefighters who worked valiantly to prevent worse losses, many feel betrayed by officials in the wake of the Border Fire report and other complaints that residents say have yielded little or no meaningful changes.
The report omits entirely any mention of controversies over the deaths of Potrero residents Jim and Kyrie Keefe, whose bodies were found by community volunteers. Agencies praised themselves in the report, while omitting criticisms on issues such as lack of adequate care for animals stranded in triple-digit heat and inadequate evacuation notifications -- in some cases, just yellow caution tape stuck on mailboxes, with no explanation or direct contact with residents in danger after their phone lines, cell towers and Internet service all went down in communities such as Potrero and Lake Morena.