CAL FIRE

SUPERVISOR DIANNE JACOB LISTENS TO COMMUNITY CONCERNS IN JULIAN

Emergency fire and medical protection, SDG&E planned outages top list of concerns

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Miriam Raftery, Editor, contributed to this report

View video of townhall: https://tinyurl.com/JacobsJulianTownHall

Photo, left, by Paul Kruze:  Supervisor Dianne Jacob and SDG&E Vice President Eugene "Mitch" Mitchell fielded audience questions.

November 7, 2019 (Julian) -- Supervisor Dianne Jacob ventured into a potential firestorm when she held a scheduled town hall forum at the Julian Town Hall on October 25th in downtown Julian. Jacob’s town hall coincided with the anniversary week for the infamous 2003 Cedar Fire and 2007 Witch Creek firestorms which devastated the eastern San Diego backcountry. Up to then, both were the two worst wildfires in California history.

But the irony didn’t stop there. Moments before the town hall was set to begin, word reached the venue that a brush fire erupted near Witch Creek between Ramona and Julian. This prompted County Fire Authority/Cal Fire Chief Tony Mecham to bolt out of the town hall where he was slated to speak in order to respond to the fast-moving fire.

“We are all on edge,” acknowledged Jacob, who chairs the county’s Unified Fire Council and outlined major investments made by the county to improve fire safety. “But we are better prepared than ever before.”

That contention, however, was disputed by the president of the former Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFD)'s  board of directors, as multiple fire engines and an ambulance roared past the town hall en route to the Sawday Fire in Ramona.

CAL FIRE BEEFS UP STAFFING DURING SANTA ANA WINDS

East County News Service
 
Agency brings in 150 out of state engines to California, adds 15 engines in San Diego County
 
October 30, 2019 (San Diego) –  Cal Fire/San Diego County Fire Authority has announced preparations being taken to prepare for extreme Santa Ana winds impacting most of Southern California over the next two or three days. 

JULIAN-CUYAMACA FIRE VOLUNTEERS CHALLENGE CAL FIRE/COUNTY FIRE CHIEF TONY MECHAM'S MEDICAL ASSISTANCE CLAIM

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

 

October 18, 2019 (Julian) -- San Diego County Fire Authority/CAL FIRE Chief Tony Mecham raised alarms about a medical situation at the Julian Fire Station No. 56, which led San Diego Superior Court Judge Randa Trapp to issue a court order in late May that forced Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District volunteers out of the embattled fire station. But volunteers with the JCFPD vigorously dispute Mecham’s assertions and contend he misconstrued the matter.

CAL FIRE INCREASES STAFFING FOR EXTREME FIRE DANGER CONDITIONS

Source:  CAL FIRE

October 8, 2019 (Sacramento) - CAL FIRE firefighters are staffing up and preparing for the forecasted extreme fire weather across California. The National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings and fire weather watches for areas of northern, central and southern California. This will likely be the strongest offshore wind event so far this season.

VEHICLE FIRE SPARKS BRUSH BLAZE NEAR GREEN VALLEY FALLS CAMPGROUND

By Miriam Raftery
 
October 6, 2019 (Rancho Cuyamaca State Park) – A motorcycle crash off State Route 79 near Green Valley Campground charred approximately six acres of brush today.  Around 70 firefighters from multiple agencies battled the #GreenFire by land and air, extinguishing it several hours after it began.

CAL FIRE ANNOUNCES AVAILABILITY OF FUNDING FOR PROJECTS THAT PROACTIVELY ADDRESS FIRE PREVENTION AND FOREST HEALTH

Souce:  CAL FIRE

September 26, 2019 (Sacramento) - The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) announced the availability of over $80 million for Forest Health and Fire Prevention projects. CAL FIRE is soliciting applications for projects that work to proactively prevent catastrophic wildfires and restore forests to healthy, functioning ecosystems while also sequestering carbon and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

CAL FIRE ISSUES CORRECTIONS ON C-130 PLANE SHOWN IN COUNTY VIDEO, AFTER ECM INQUIRY

By Miriam Raftery

September 18, 2019 (San Diego) -- On August 30th, the County of San Diego issued a news release titled “CAL FIRE Prepares To Add New Aerial Attack Plane”.  It incorrectly stated, “CAL FIRE plans in the near future to purchase a retardant-dropping C-130 air tanker and the agency’s pilots got a chance to train in the region this month.” 

A video did show a pilot training in Ramona, as ECM reported. Cal Fire Captain and Public Information officer Issac Sanchez, in the video, indicated that Cal Fire hoped to have a C-130 permanently stationed in the region within the next couple of years.

However, yesterday ECM received an e-mail from Thomas Dominguez, who says he is a former firefighter. He disputed the County’s statements and indicated that the aircraft in question is to be given, not sold, to Cal Fire by the federal government. He also stated that the aircraft is not currently equipped with a fire retardant system. 

CalFire has confirmed that these are truthful statements, and that this process will likely take a couple of years, though will ultimately make our region safer.

IN THE WILDLAND URBAN INTERFACE WORKSHOP IN CAMPO SEPT. 7

East County News Service

 

September 4, 2019 (Campo) – The Fire Safe Council of San Diego, Cal Fire and the County Fire Authority invite you to learn principles firefighters use to protect your home and community at the Wildland Urban Interface Workshop on Saturday, Sept. 7 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Registration, networking and refreshments will begin at 7:30 with the course at 8 a.m. at the Mountain Health Community Center, 976 Sheridan Rd., Campo.

LOCAL CAL FIRE FIREFIGHTER DIES AFTER TRAINING HIKE

By Miriam Raftery

July 29, 2019 (San Diego) – A Cal Fire firefighter on a training hike with his engine crew suffered a medical emergency this morning. He was airlifted by a San Diego County Sheriff’s helicopter and an air ambulance to Temecula Valley Hospital in critical condition, where he died despite the diligent efforts of medical staff. 

Governor Gavin Newsom order the flag at the state capitol flown at half mast.  “On behalf of all Californians, Jennifer and I extend our sincere condolences to CAL FIRE Firefighter Yaroslav Katkov’s family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time," the Governor states. "It’s the work of brave firefighters like Yaroslav that keep our communities safe, and we are deeply grateful for his service.”

LA MESA RECEIVES GRANT FROM CAL FIRE TO DEVELOP URBAN FOREST MANAGEMENT PLAN AND PLANT 200 TREES

Source:  City of La Mesa

June 18, 2019 (La Mesa) - The City of La Mesa has been awarded a $385,000 grant from Cal Fire. The grant will support the continued growth of La Mesa’s urban tree canopy and implementation of the City’s Climate Action Plan (CAP). Through the grant, La Mesa will:

COUNTY BRACING FOR TOUGH FIRE SEASON, ANNOUNCES COORDINATED EFFORT TO MEET CHALLENGES

Firebreaks planned to protect Crest and Guatay

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

June 6, 2019 (San Diego) -- Not wanting a repeat of devastation suffered in the deadly 2003 and 2007 firestorms in San Diego County, Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Dianne Jacob announced on Tuesday a highly coordinated fire prevention effort in anticipation of a tough fire season.

While recent heavy rains have been good for replenishing water supplies, Jacob stated at a press conference, “From a fire standpoint, what has happened, our backcountry brush is thicker than ever. That means there is more fuel to feed a fire when it hits. And it will."

Jacob, whose District 2 includes fire-prone East County, added, "Since the series of deadly firestorms in 2003 and 2007, the county has worked side-by-side with CAL FIRE and spent more than half-a-billion dollars on firefighting improvements.” This has included “new stations, aircraft, and the establishment of a bigger and better firefighting force."

Audio: 

Audio: Press conference on San Diego County fire plans for 2019

BREAKING NEWS: CALFIRE/COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO RETAKES REMAINING JULIAN FIRE STATION; DEFIES STAY TRIGGERED BY APPEAL

San Diego County fails to pay JCFPD paramedics as agreed in earlier court judgment

Update: Sheriff's office declines to comment on eviction of the JCFPD

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

June 3, 2019 (Julian) -- CAL FIRE, under the authority of the San Diego County Fire Authority, retook the remaining Julian fire station Sunday afternoon. The station  has been held by volunteers Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD) with court approval after the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) dissolved the JCFPD, pending the outcome of litigation by those trying to save the county's last volunteer firefighting district.

The move by CAL FIRE and the Sheriff’s Department failure to halt the takeover was in defiance of an appeal filed to the San Diego Superior Appellate Court Division immediately after Superior Court Judge Randa Trapp on Friday ordered members of the JCFPD to vacate Fire Station No. 56 in her Friday ruling.  The appeal triggers an automatic stay, the County’s director of communications acknowledged Friday, prior to the forced takeover this weekend. Judge Trapp on Friday also affirmed that no eviction should occur until an appeal could be heard, according to a witness present in the courtroom. ECM is working to obtain videotape of the judge’s statement.

SAN DIEGO LAFCO VOTES TO DISSOLVE JULIAN CUYAMACA FIRE DISTRICT IN DEFIANCE OF COURT ORDER; VOLUNTEERS STAGE SIT-IN AT FIRE STATION

 
 
 
 
Friday Superior Court ruling nullified initial application to dissolve district
 
By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor
 
 
 
 
April 9, 2019 (Julian-Cuyamaca) - Just when you might figure the drama over the future of the Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD) is over, after Monday’s vote by the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), it would appear it is only starting. This time around, there is one more player in the game, and volunteers are occupying the fire station until at least through Wednesday.

IT’S OFFICIAL: JULIAN-CUYAMACA CITIZENS VOTE TO ABOLISH ITS INDEPENDENT FIRE PROTECTION AGENCY

 

 

Residents weigh legal challenge as election paves way for County Fire Authority and CAL FIRE to assume fire protection and medical emergency services

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

 

April 5, 2019 (Julian-Cuyamaca) - After nearly two years of controversy, Julian residents voted on Mar. 19 by mail ballot to abolish the 34-year old Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD) and replace it with fire and medical emergency services provided by the San Diego Fire Authority and Cal Fire.

COUNTY SAYS JULIAN-CUYAMACA FIREFIGHTERS CAN SERVE AS VOLUNTEERS ALONGSIDE CAL-FIRE IF THEY SIGN UP BY APRIL 15: BUT NOBODY TOLD JULIAN’S FIRE CHIEF

 

Update April 4, 2019 -- Alex Bell, public information officer for San Diego, has clarified that on March 29, the same day our story below ran, a letter was sent to JFCPD Chief Van Bibber and the JCFPD board president via email and certified mail notifying him of volunteer opportunities. In addition a flyer was provided to them for distribution to their volunteers. "Since Monday, 8 Julian firefighters have applied to the County Fire Authority program," Bell told ECM.

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 29, 2019 (Julian) – Measure A, the ballot initiative to abolish the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD) and put the San Diego County Fire Authority/CAL FIRE in charge of emergency services, appears to have passed by a slim 114 vote margin, 54% to 46%, according to the Registrar of Voters though the results won’t be certified until April 4.

The County issued a press release today headlined “Julian joins the County Fire Authority.”  The County states this will bring “full-time professional firefighting and paramedic service to the popular East County tourist destinations.”

“Now that voters in Julian have spoken, it is my hope that the entire community will come together and rally around our common goal to bolster fire protection and other emergency services in the area,” said Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Dianne Jacob, who represents the area. The JCFPD is San Diego County's last all-volunteer firefighting department.

But now the County appears to have offered an olive branch to the 60 volunteers in the JCFPD with an opportunity to continue to serve-yet the County failed to inform the JCFPD's Chief or others about that opportunity and a looming deadline.

JULIAN VOTES TO ABOLISH THE JULIAN CUYAMACA FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Miriam Raftery, Editor, contributed to this report

Update March 27, 2019: The margin has narrowed slightly but Measure A still leads by 114 votes and a 7.96% margin: yes 53.98%, no 46.02%

March 19, 2019 (Julian) – The County’s last all-volunteer fire department may soon be history. With 1,294 ballots counted tonight, Measure A is passing with 55.56%, the Registrar of Voters reports.

The measure would affirm a decision made last September by the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) to abolish the 35-year-old Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District. Fire and ambulance services would be shifted entirely to the County Fire Authority, under the direction of Cal-Fire.

The Registrar’s office will continue to accept ballots until Friday, if postmarked by today. It is unclear how many ballots mailed out have not yet been returned, or whether there could be enough to make up the 145-vote gap (719 to 575).

Cal-Fire firefighters’ union local #2881 posted on Facebook tonight, “Thank you to the Citizens of Julian and Cuyamaca for the opportunity to serve them.” (photo, left)

For backers of the JCFPD who have fought hard to keep their volunteer firefighters, however, the outcome sparked strong emotions.

CAL FIRE SAYS SNOWED-IN FIRE ENGINE POST WAS A HOAX



Update Feb. 22, 2019 10:26 a.m.  This morning the Julian Times posted a photo on its Facebook page showing Cal Fire/CFA engines purportedly stuck in snow. Scroll down for the image. 

In addition, Times of San Diego forwarded this aerial video provided by a Julian resident showing Cal Fire engines in heavy snow at the station this morning:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1C6U3pTQIY3W7UJd2Jd6EC-wHghTwzEqp/view?fbclid=IwAR2CcW9R9b5rPvicADyqPXU_XtYJ4DhBe87yicG5lihg12g-g7VLkoMti44

 



By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Rachel Goddard,, JCFPD volunteers clear a tree blocking a snowy road.

February 22, 2019 (Julian) -- With up to two feet of snow blanketing the mountains of East County last night, a post circulating on social media and sent to ECM last night contained a screenshot that appeared to be a screen shot from a County Fire Authority social media page. The post stated that  its Cal Fire Station 51 in Julian and a fire engine "is unable to respond to calls and is out of service due to the growing snow conditions." (See screenshot below.)

But this morning, Cal Fire Deputy Chief Nick Schuler told ECM that the image and its message was "false" and not an official Cal Fire page. He said Cal Fire engines were in operation responding to calls at the time. Schuler blamed advocates of a contentious ballot initiative to keep the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District independent for circulating what he states was a hoax. ECM has requested call logs for the evening from both agencies.

Volunteer firefighters with the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District sent ECM a photo last night demonstrating a can-do spirit as they continued to serve their community during the emergency conditions, responding to calls for medical assistance and removing a downed tree. (Photo, left, courtey of the JCFPD.)

JCFPD Chief Mike Van Bibber told ECM today that he is confident the post did not originate with his firefighters. He added that one of his team owns a backhoe that was used to keep the JCFPD station clear for engines' access.

After we received Schuler's statement, this morning the Julian Times posted this photo on their Facebook page which appears to show two CFA engines temporarily blocked in by snow:

AS VOTERS PREPARE TO CAST BALLOTS ON FUTURE OF JULIAN AREA'S FIRE DEPARTMENT, COUNTY ANNOUNCES FULL STAFFING OF RANCHITA FIRE STATION

By Miriam Raftery

February 21, 2019 (Ranchita) – For years, residents of Ranchita, a small town between Borrego Springs and Julian, have complained about prolonged periods of time when their fire station was unstaffed, leaving their community without rapid response to medical emergencies and fires. 

But now, just as area residents prepare to go to the polls in March to vote on a ballot initiative to determine the fate of the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Department, the County Fire Authority and Cal Fire have announced that they have upgraded staffing at the Ranchita Fire Station to permanent full-time staffing and are in the process of boosting paramedic services.  

CAL FIRE DETERMINES CAUSES OF TWO LOCAL FIRES

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 1, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) – The Cinnamon Fire, which burned 13 acres in Ramona on July 20th  and destroyed a home that was a former stage coach stop dating back to 1870, was caused by use of equipment, says Cal Fire public information officer Isaac Sanchez.

JULIAN RESIDENTS AGAINST COUNTY TAKEOVER OF FIRE SERVICES WIN VICTORY IN COURT, BUT SETBACK AT LAFCO HEARING

 

 

Battle to save the county's last volunteer fire district now hinges on a protest process that could give voters the final say

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Miriam Raftery, Editor, also contributed to this report.

 

Photo:  Battalion Chief Mike Van Bibber, Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District

September 11, 2018 (Julian) -- A group of Julian area residents fighting fire axes-and-hoses against a county takeover of fire and medical first responder services won a firm victory last Thursday in Superior Court. Judge Timothy Taylor ruled to allow a ballot measure to fund future operations for the Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD).

Backers of the initiative hoped the ruling would curtail the County of San Diego’s efforts to terminate the JCFPD, the region’s last all-volunteer fire department, and shift fire and ambulance services to the County Fire Authority (CFA) in conjunction with Cal Fire.

But despite Judge Taylor’s ruling, yesterday the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) voted 7-0 to dissolve the district. Residents could still block the takeover through a protest process that’s now been triggered.  Determined opponents of the takeover are gearing up for the fight, arguing that eliminating volunteer firefighters who live in the community will make the area less safe, not safer has had been promised by the CFA.

CAL FIRE MAKES ONE OF THE LARGEST ILLEGAL FIREWORKS SEIZURES IN STATE HISTORY

 

Source:  Cal Fire

June 7, 2018 (Sacramento) - With the Fourth of July Holiday just around the corner, CAL FIRE announced one of the largest seizures of illegal fireworks in state history today.

Following a months long investigation, CAL FIRE law enforcement officers arrested seven individuals and seized over 49,000 pounds of fireworks over the past two weeks in connection to a large-scale illegal firework ring. Law enforcement officers found these suspects have been illegally importing, transporting, storing, distributing and selling illegal and dangerous fireworks throughout California for more than 30 years.

WHAT CAUSED THE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES? DO DANGEROUS CONDITIONS EXIST THAT SHOULD BE FIXED?

 

By Miriam Raftery

May 30, 2018 (San Diego) – A report released May 25th by Cal Fire concludes that four of the devastating wildfires in Butte and Nevada Counties last October (La Porte, McCourtney, Lobo and Honey fires) were caused by trees coming into contact with power lines. In three of those fires, state laws requiring clearance around power lines were violated by the utilities, Cal Fire also found, though no violations were found in the La Porte blaze.

CAL FIRE ISSUES NO-BURN PROCLAMATION EFFECTIVE MAY 14

 

 

East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts

 

CAL FIRE's San Diego unit has issued a proclamation suspending burning permits and other uses of open fires starting May 14th due to fire danger. Below are details from the CAL FIRE announcement issued today:



Due to the extreme menace of destruction by fire to life, improved property, or natural resources caused by critical fire weather and acute dryness of vegetation; and/or fire suppression forces being heavily committed to control fires; and, under authority vested in me by the Director of the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection as per section 4423.1 of the Public Resources Code, I hereby suspend, except within the incorporated cities, the privileges of burning by permit and other uses of open fire in the geographic area described as:



ALL STATE RESPONSIBILITY AREA LANDS WITHIN THE COUNTY / COUNTIES OF SAN DIEGO

JULIAN-CUYAMACA FIRE BOARD VOTES TO NEGOTIATE WITH COUNTY

 

Story and photos by A.J. Herrington

February 13, 2018 (Julian) -- The Board of Directors of the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD) has voted 3-2 to negotiate fire protection standards for the community with the County of San Diego, if the County takes over that responsibility from the district. Many of the area residents who attended the crowded meeting at Fire Station 56 on Highway 79 today believe it’s the beginning of the end for the last volunteer fire department in the county.

CAL FIRE CHIEF BILL CLAYTON, HERO OF PARADISE AND CEDAR FIRES, PASSES AWAY

 

 

 

Services to honor legendary firefighter are set for February 10th

By Miriam Raftery

February 5, 2018 (San Diego) – William R. “Bill” Clayton led the firefight that saved Julian’s historic downtown during the 2003 Cedar Fire. Just days earlier, the Cal Fire Division Chief led efforts to save nearly 200 people trapped in the Valley View Casino during the Paradise Fire—after coming out of retirement shortly before those devastating firestorms. 

The most honored member of California’s state firefighting agency now known as Cal Fire, the division chief passed away in his sleep on Sunday, February 4th, of natural causes.

Clayton received the most awards of any firefighter in Cal Fire history, including twice earning the Medal of Valor, the state’s highest award for bravery.

CONTROLLED BURN NEAR PINE VALLEY STARTS TUESDAY

 
 
East County Wildfire & Emergency Alerts
 
January 15, 2018 (Pine Valley) -- If you see smoke  over East County  on this week, be aware that Cal Fire San Diego will conduct its first controlled burn of the year starting on Tuesday. Ignition is set to begin by mid-morning and is expected to take place over several days until complete.
 
The planned 100-acre burn on Corte Madera Ranch south of I-8 near Pine Valley is part of Cal Fire's vegetation management program to help prevent future large wildfires. Smoke will be visible throughout the county.

CAL FIRE AND COUNTY FIRE DEPLOY SWIFTWATER RESCUE TEAM IN PREPARATION FOR POWERFUL STORM

 

East County News Service

January 8, 2018 (Ramona) -- With the expected arrival of the strongest storm to hit the region since last winter’s record breaking rainfall, County Fire and CAL FIRE San Diego are taking steps to ensure that they are prepared for any weather-related incidents this week.

County officials expect the heaviest rain to arrive early Tuesday and anticipate it impacting the morning commute. As a result, San Diego County Fire will be activating a swift water rescue team which will be prepositioned in the Ramona area that will be available for immediate response to any portion of the county should the need arise. In addition to the swift water rescue team,CAL FIRE San Diego will have hand crews available for flood fighting operations.

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.

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.

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