Potrero

DRIVE-UP COVID-19 TESTING COMES TO POTRERO SEPT. 21 -- FREE

East County New Service
 
September 17, 2020 (Potrero) -- On September 21st, free drive-up COVID-19 testing will be held at the Potrero Community Center, 24550 Highway 94, from 9:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. Appointments are required. Call 2-1-1 to schedule.
 
This is offered by CalFire / San Diego County Fire in Cooperation with San Diego County HHSA.

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COMMUNITY CLEANUPS AND GREEN WASTE CHIPPING EVENTS IN POTRERO, JACUMBA AND CAMPO

By Miriam Raftery

September 17, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Community clean-up events are slated in three backcountry communities for residents to bring e-waste, furniture, box springs, appliances, mattress and other oversized trash (but no construction waste) from 8 a.m. until dumpsters are full. Chipping of green waste will also be available from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.  The events are scheduled for:

CAMPO:  Sept. 19 at Homemaker’s Thrift Shop, 987 Custer Rd.

JACUMBA: Oct. 17 at Jacumba Community Park, 44605 Old Highway 80

POTRERO: Nov. 21 at Potrero Community Park, 24800 Potrero Park Dr.


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SDG&E PLANNED OUTAGES IN TRIPLE-DIGIT HEAT AND STORMS MAY ENDANGER SAFETY OF RESIDENTS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: New power poles in Pine Valley are made of steel, not wood, for fire safety, as part of the upgrades that SDG&E has been installing across inland San Diego County.

Updated August 23, 2020 9:40 a.m. with responses from SDG&E.

August 22, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Amid a record-breaking heat wave with monsoonal thunderstorms, flash floods and lightning-sparked fires forecast as potential added hazards, SDG&E has announced plans to shut off power for hours during the heat of the day on Sunday and Monday across much of San Diego County.  

The outages are to upgrade wood poles to steel, among other equipment upgrades or maintenance planned.

The NWS has warned that the intense heat  this week can be life-threatening for those without air conditioning, yet the power outage will leave any residents who lack generators without access to safe, cool spaces amid the COVID-19 pandemic when many public, air-conditioned places are shut down.

Rural residents with electric well pumps will also be left without water for people or livestock to drink, as well as for fighting fires, as many rural residents equipped with tanks and hoses have done in past brush fires, unless they have invested in generators. Downed communications including internet and in some areas, phone service also leave residents unable to receive emergency alerts despite a high potential for emergencies during the extreme weather conditions.


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PASSAGES: WESTERN REENACTOR EPIPHANY “EPIE” LOPEZ 1948-2019

By Miriam Raftery

September 1, 2019 (San Diego’s East County) – Epiphany “Epie” Lopez of Potrero, best known for his portrayal of bandito Cruz Lopez in the Gaskill Brothers Gunfighters, passed away on August 22, 2019 at age 71.

 

Born January 8, 1948, he was related to the Machados, one of the first families in Old Town, San Diego, though not to Cruz Lopez.  “My family has been in San Diego since 1769,” he once stated. 


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CAMPER CRUSHED BY RUNAWAY VEHICLE AT POTRERO COUNTY PARK

By Miriam Raftery

June 21, 2019 (Potrero) – A camper from Washington state staying at a San Diego County campground in Potrero after returning from Mexico died yesterday after being run over by a runaway vehicle.


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NEIGHBOR FINDS HOMICIDE VICTIM IN POTRERO

 
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
March 17, 2019 (Potrero) – A Potrero resident was found dead in his residence in the 25700 block of Potrero Valley Road this morning with signs of trauma to his body.
 
A concerned neighbor who hadn’t seen the man in several days looked through the window shortly after 11 a.m. and saw him lying on the floor, then called 911. Sheriff’s deputies responded to assist fire department personnel.

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POTRERO WOMAN, 38, DIES OF CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING; TWO MORE HOSPITALIZED

 
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
February 19, 2019 (Potrero) – Alejandra Alejandre, 38, of Potrero died of carbon monoxide poisoning in her home on Hartley Hill Road. Two other family members, including a child, were taken to a hospital on Wednesday, according to Cal Fire.

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FREE ONE-DAY, IN-DEPTH WILDFIRE SAFETY WORKSHOP OFFERED IN POTRERO

 

Learn what firefighters know about protecting homes and communities from wildfire

East County News Service

August 29, 2018 (Potrero) - The Fire Safe Council of San Diego County is taking fire safety training to local communities that are at high-risk for wildfires. Some of the most vulnerable areas are those in the Wildland Urban Interface, or WUI, which is defined as residential areas that abut to open space. The next workshop, called Fire Operations in the Wildland Urban Interface, will be in Potrero on Saturday, September 8, 2018.


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SUPREME COURT DENIES APPEAL BY BLACKWATER GUARDS CONVICTED OF MASSACRE IN IRAQ

 

Story and photo by Miriam Raftery

Photo: Carl Meyer, who led successful recall effort against Potrero planners who voted for Blackwater

May 15, 2018 (San Diego) –  Back in 2007, Potrero residents in San Diego’s East County raised protests against the private military contractor Blackwater Worldwide opening up a training camp in their community. The protests in Potrero, which drew global media attention, came at a time when four Blackwater security guards were accused of a massacre that killed 14 civilians and wounded 17 people in Iraq.


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A REPORTER’S REFLECTIONS ON THE FIRESTORMS OF 2007

 

 

Story and photos by Miriam Raftery

Photo, left:  Harris Fire viewed from Barrett Junction, the morning of October 21, 2007

October 21, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) – Ten years ago today, I was among the first reporters on the scene when the devastating 2007 firestorms began.  I couldn’t believe that just four years after the deadly Cedar Fire, the nightmare was occurring again –on what turned out to be an even more horrific scale.  

Out of the ashes of those fires, East County Magazine and our East County Wildfire and Emergency Alerts were born, to help fill a need for critical information in real-time.


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BRUSH FIRE BURNING IN POTRERO

 

Update 5:02 p.m. - Forward spread has been stopped. Fire is still zero percent contained at 20 acres. Firefighting aircraft are on scene.

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

September 7, 2017 (Potrero)  4:52 p.m. -- A brush fire burning in Potrero, one mile west of the Tecate Port of Entry, is now 20 acres and zero percent contained, however forward spread has been stopped.

Cal Fire has named the blaze, which began within the hour,the #BorderFire9.


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COMMUNITY CLEAN-UP DAYS IN BOULEVARD, JACUMBA AND POTRERO

 

East County News Service

July 23, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) – The Real East County Fire Safe Council, EDCO and Team E invite you to bring your trash, green waste, e-waste and brush to community clean-up day events coming up in Boulevard, Jacumba Hot Springs and Potrero. This is a free service to community residents.


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FORMER PORTRERO RESIDENT SEEKING REVERSAL OF HOME FORFEITURE TO FEDS AFTER COURT VOIDS CONVICTIONS

 

By Mike Allen

April 11, 2017 (Potrero) – A former Potrero resident who was found guilty of smuggling illegal immigrants in 2014 had her ranch home seized by the federal government and sold at auction. But now a court has vacated, or voided, the most serious charges, so Kayla Rains seeks to have the auction funds returned to her.


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OFFICIALS MEET WITH POTRERO RESIDENTS ON BORDER FIRE CONCERNS

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 6, 2016 (Potrero)—Supervisor Dianne Jacob convened a meeting at the Potrero Library on September 27th ,  where officials from Cal Fire, the Sheriff’s department,County Animal Services and the Office of Emergency Services responded to concerns raised by residents during the Border Fire.

Verizon, AT&T and SDG&E were also on hand with information on communications issues and power outages.


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WHITEWASH? COUNTY’S BORDER FIRE REPORT IGNORES SERIOUS CONCERNS RAISED BY RESIDENTS

 

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.


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HAVE YOU SEEN OUR NEWSLETTER?

 

September 2, 2016 (San Diego's East County) -- Our latest newsletter just came out --with all the hottest news and events impacting you in East County all in one single-page newsletter.  You can view the latest edition here.   

To get a free subscription to our weekly newsletter-- and also the option to get free wildfire and emergency alerts, click here

Tell your friends and family!


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COMMUNITY CLEANUPS SET FOR CAMPO, BOULEVARD, JACUMBA AND POTRERO IN SEPT-NOV.

 

By Jan Hedlun

August 30, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) -- The Community Cleanup on Broken Bone Lane on August 27 was a wonderful success. Thank you to EDCO for providing the shipping containers for free. Thank you to The Real Estate Fire Safe Council who made this possible along with CERT and TEAME.


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HELP THE ENVIRONMENT--BE GREEN! DISPOSE OF HOUSEHOLD CHEMICALS FREE ON SEPT. 17 IN POTRERO

 

 

 

August 25, 2016 (Potrero) --Residents in the  Potrero area /unincorporated San Diego East County are encouraged to use the County’s one-day household hazardous waste collection event Sept. 17 at the Old County Fire Station in Potrero.

Did you know?  Many products used in the home may be hazardous to people, pets or the environment and should not be thrown in the trash or dumped down the sewer or storm drains.  While it is always best to use up your household chemical products, the County of  San Diego’s Department of Environmental Health would like to notify you of a one-day collection event where residents living in the unincorporated county can bring their household chemicals for proper disposal or recycling—for free!


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RURAL SHERIFF’S OFFICE RESPONDS TO BORDER FIRE CONCERNS

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 13, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – Captain Hank Turner from the Sheriff’s Rural Substation in Campo has reached out to address concerns raised by residents at recent public meetings regarding issues that arose during the Border Fire.

Those concerns have prompted two avenues for potential  reforms:  an internal investigation regarding a search for two missing people found dead 10 days after the fire, and an action report  on a broader set of issues, along with recommendations forchanges for the future.

“I’ve lived in East County most of my life. I’m glad to be working out here; my kids go to school with the people out here, and if a fire hits, I’m not living in La Jolla,” Captain Turner told East County Magazine. “I’m living out here and I’m going to be working out here during the fires.”


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U.S. FOREST SERVICE AGREES TO LAND FIREFIGHTING TANKER PLANE AT BROWN FIELD IN OTAY, BUT NOT RAMONA

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 9, 2016 (Otay)—Effective immediately, the U.S. Forest Service has authorized its Next Generation firefighting air tankers to operate at Brown Field in Otay Mesa near the border during times of elevated wildfire risk.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob  called the announcement “a step forward” but added, “They don't go far enough. Ramona Air Attack Base, in the heart of wildfire country, still makes the most sense.”  She noted the high risk of wildfire in Ramona, site of the devastating 2003 Cedar Fire and the2007 firestorms.


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POTRERO RESIDENTS SEEK HELP TO SHELTER IN PLACE, ORGANIZE TO AID NEIGHBORS IN FUTURE FIRES

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 6, 2016 (Potrero) –“How do we move forward now?”  Robert Buerer(photo,left), leader of the Potrero  Community Emergency Response (CERT) Team asked at  a Potrero Foundation disaster preparedness meeting on Saturday, July 3 in the aftermath of the Border Fire.

He wants to expand a Neighbor to Neighbor program that’s arisen out of Neighborhood Watch.   Each neighborhood would have a team leader and phone tree to spread word about alerts and evacuation notices to  neighbors.  To prevent a recurrence of the tragic loss of a couple trapped during the Border Fire with a broken-down vehicle, the program would enable neighbors to learn if someone needs help to evacuate or find a haven for those who choose to shelter in place.


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MEMORIAL PLANNED JULY 10 FOR COUPLE WHO DIED IN BORDER FIRE

 

 

By  Miriam Raftery

Update July 6, 2016:  The Medical Examiner has confirmed the identity of James Peter Keefe,53 and also confirmed that the second body is that of his wife,but has not released her full name pending efforts to locate her relatives in Canada.

Memorial fund established for Jim and Kyrie Keefe

July 3, 2016 (Potrero) –A memorial service is planned for July 10th at 11 a.m. to commemorate Jim Keefe and his wife, Kyrie.  The service will be held at 28020 State Route 94 in Potrero,  the site where the young couple lived.  Bodies believed to be theirs were found by volunteer searchers among boulders 50 to 70 yards behind their home after the Border Fire.

“Let’s get together to honor them, talk to each other about what happened that tragic day, and salute two wonderful people who brightened our lives and made us smile. See their art, tell some stories on the mic, hear some music, walk the property, cry, hug,and laugh,” Claudia Millerbragg posted on the Potrero Town page on Facebook, adding that people should bring chairs.


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BORDER FIRE SURVIVORS SHARE CONCERNS, OUTRAGE AT MEETING WITH SUPERVISOR JACOB, FIRE AND SHERIFF OFFICIALS

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 30, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – Emotions ran high at a community meeting on Border Fire issues convened by Supervisor Dianne Jacob this morning at the Barrett Junction Café in Dulzura.

 Rural residents praised efforts of firefighters, but voiced frustrations and pointed criticisms over problems that arose including lack of adequate care for animals in the evacuated areas and at shelters. communications failures, and inadequate help to locate a missing couple found dead yesterday by volunteer searchers in Potrero.

Jacob  converted a  previously planned coffee with the community event into a forum for the public to air concerns and for officials to respond.  Representatives from Cal Fire and the Sheriff’s Department turned out, but Animal Services did not.  “Not being here is not a good thing,” Jacob said of Animal Services, adding that she has heard many complaints from rural residents about both Animal Services and the Sheriff’s Department.


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EMERGENCY MEETING ALERT: BORDER FIRE SURVIVORS -THURS 8 AM AT BARRETT CAFE

 

June 29, 2016 (Barrett Junction)--Supervisor Dianne Jacob has pulled together an emergency meeting in response to all the concerns raised by Border Fire survivors. The meeting will be held at 8:30 a.m. at the BarrettCafe, 1020 Barrett Lake Road in Dulzura.

A note from her office states: "She will be there with Fire Officials, Sheriff's Department, Office of Emergency Services, Animal Services, BLM, Border Patrol to listen to residents' concerns andanswer questions. This meeting was scheduled already. Sup Jacob has quickly reformed it to include the very people who need to hear from residents there on the ground.  She is well aware of the concerns you've shared with her office."


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BORDER FIRE CLAIMS HOME OF SOLDIER KILLED IN IRAQ WAR

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 29, 2016 (Potrero) -- The  Border Fire destroyed five homes, ravaging lives and memories.  In Potrero, one of the families whose home burned had already suffered a devastating loss. 

Their son, Army Sgt. Brud Cronkrite,  was killed in Karbala, Iraq, when a rocket-propelled grenade was fired into a nearby building while he was on a security patrol during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004. He was born and raised in Potrero, before joining the Army and deploying first to Kuwait, then Iraq. He was 22 years old when he lost his life in service to his country.


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TWO BODIES FOUND IN POTRERO ON PROPERTY BURNED BY BORDER FIRE WHERE INJURED DOG WAS FOUND

 

Update:  The Medical Examiner's office has identified the bodies found as Jim and Kyrie Keefe, who died of heat-related injuries.

By Miriam Raftery

June 29, 2016 (Potrero) – Two bodies have been found in a rocky crevasse in Potrero by volunteer community members who organized a search this morning, multiple sources have informed East County Magazine. 

The bodies were found at a site burned by the Border Fire, 10 days after the blaze began, Reporting San Diego’s Nadin Abbott, first media at the scene, and Deerhorn Valley Antler Editor Kim Hamilton both confirmed.

The bodies have not yet been identified,  but were found during a search for Jim Keefe, known as “Barefoot Jim” and  his wife or girlfriend who neighbors knew as “Kyrie.”   As ECM reported last night, neighbors launched the search themselves, voicing frustration that their repeated efforts to get help from a Sheriff’s official for days failed to lead to a serious search of the property and vicinity.

“Spent 15 minutes and picked up smell,” Hamilton told ECM in an e-mail. “Located bodies on hillside tucked into a pocket in the boulders. Exactly what has ben communicated to sheriffs from the beginning.”


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COUPLE MISSING AFTER BORDER FIRE; CONCERNED NEIGHBORS LAUNCH SEARCH WEDNESDAY MORNING

 

Update June 29, 2016  -- Volunteer searchers have found two bodies between rocks on a hill behind the home where Jim and Kylie Keef lived.  A positive identification is pending the County Medical Examiner's exam. For details,view our article: http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/two-bodies-found-potrero-property-burn...

A memorial fund to also help care for their dogs has been established here:  https://www.gofundme.com/2c2et997

By Miriam Raftery

June 28,2016 (Potrero)—“Barefoot Jim” Keefe and his wife, Kyrie, have not been seen since the Border Fire scorched their property on June 19th

Several dogs were rescued days ago from the blaze  including a dog with burned paws dubbed “Little Joe” after 10 News reporter Joe Little, who helped in the rescue.  According to neighbors, other dogs have died and additional dogs are still running loose.  Friends say the couple would not have abandoned their dogs and voiced concerns that their aqua van with painted flames –the couple’s only known vehicle--was also still at the site, just eight inches from the fire’s scorch marks, along with their trailer.

They fear the couple may have set off on foot or perhaps tried to take shelter in caves on or her their property, and that they may have perished from the fire.


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COUNTY TAKES ACTION TO WAIVE FEES FOR BORDER FIRE SURVIVIORS TO REBUILD, ALSO PROVIDE BINS FOR DEBRIS

 

East County News Service

Photo: Day 2 of the Border Fire, Cal-Fire

June 28,2016 (San Diego) -- The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to help those who lost homes or buildings in the Border Fire. The County will waive fees for building permits and plan-check reviews. 

Fees will only be waived for structures that were legally permitted originally, prior to the fire. The Board’s Tuesday action would also distribute trash bins to people in the fire areas to help them clear debris.

The Border Fire started June 19th and over the past 10 days has charred over 7,600 acres, destroyed five homes and 11 outbuildings. CAL FIRE reported Tuesday that the Border fire, which grew to 7,609 acres, was 92 percent contained.

“It’s an absolute tragedy for anyone who has lost everything,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob, whose district includes the Potrero, Campo and Lake Morena communities ravaged by the Border Fire.


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READER’S EDITORIAL: BORDER FIRE SURVIVOR ASKS SUPERVISOR JACOB AND AGENCIES TO HOLD TOWN HALL MEETING ON FIRE ISSUES IN THE AREAS THAT BURNED

 

By Jan Hedlun

Potrero Resident and Wildfire Survivor

June 28, 2016 (Potrero) --I have heard that local and government agencies involved in the Border Fire are already patting themselves on the back, saying they handled everything perfectly without having sat down with community members for input.  I notice they are holding meetings to tell each other what a good job they’ve done; meetings that most of us recovering from the wildfire did not hear about and could not get to.

I just saw on a Facebook post that today the San Diego County Board of Supervisors are going to “chat about how to provide assistance to victims of the fire at their meeting today." * Chat? Didn’t they have a multitude of meetings after the Cedar (2003), Harris and Witch Fires (2007) that dealt will these topics?  Didn’t they come out with resolutions back then?

I’ve not heard from anyone that Supervisor Jacobs or other authorities have been out here to ask people face-to-face what happened and what could be improved upon. Don’t you think they would want to know all the facts from the people that were involved before holding all these self-congratulatory meetings?


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SDG&E DRAWS PRAISE FOR SWIFT RESPONSE TO OUTAGES DURING FIRE

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 25, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – During the Border Fire, SDG&E rapidly mobilized resources that have been substantially beefed up since prior firestorms—getting electricity back on swiftly in burned-out communities sweltering in triple-digit heat.  For many rural residents,electricity also powers wells that provide water in and in some cases, equipment burned. 

But as of this morning, power has been fully restored in all areas impacted by the fire,according to SDG&E’s outage map.

“The SDG&E crews have been amazing. They have not stopped since the fire swept through,” Potrero resident Jan Hedlun writes. “They have a camp up next to the Potrero Community Church and are working, working, working. The rate of speed they took to get most of us hooked up is wondrous. I watched them using a helicopter to move the poles over the ridge. Well coordinated crews.”


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