CAL FIRE

JULIAN VOTES TO ABOLISH THE JULIAN CUYAMACA FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT: PRELIMINARY COUNT IS 55% TO 44%

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Miriam Raftery, Editor, contributed to this report

Update March 21, 2019:  With 1,400 ballots counted, the total is now 766 (54.56%) yes, (45.44%) 638 no, a 128-vote margin. Tomorrow is the deadline for ballots mailed by election day to be received and tallied.

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

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.

CAL FIRE MAKES PREPARATIONS TO HONOR FALLEN ENGINEER CORY IVERSON

 

Source: Cal Fire

December 18, 2017 (El Cajon) -- CAL FIRE Incident Management Team 6 (IMT 6) has transitioned in partnership with the CAL FIRE San Diego Unit as they make final arrangements for a Celebration of Life to honor Engineer Cory Iverson, who lost his life battling the Thomas Fire in Ventura County. 

CAL FIRE FIREFIGHTER STATIONED AT DULZURA DIES IN THOMAS FIRE

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 14, 2017 (Dulzura) – Cal Fire engineer Cory Iverson, 32, who was stationed in Dulzura, has died of injuries sustained fighting the Thomas Fire in Ventura County this morning.  A resident of Escondido, he leaves behind a 2-year-old daughter, Evie and his wife, Ashley, who is expecting the couple’s second daughter in the spring.

"Today has been a tragic and devastating day," Cal Fire San Diego County Fire Chief Tony Mecham told media at a press conference. "This incident has shaken our organization to the core." He praised Iverson as “a great young man, somebody who really loved his job."

CAL FIRE INCREASES STAFFING IN PREPARATION FOR SANTA ANA WINDS

 

Source: CAL FIRE

October 20, 2017 (San Diego) -- As Firefighters in Northern California continue to make progress on 9 large wildfires burning across the State, the true magnitude of the devastation of loss of life and property is beginning to come to life.  This recent series of fires is the deadliest in California State History. Since the start of the October Fire Siege on October 8, there have been 21 major wildfires that burned over 245,000 acres, forced 100,000 people to evacuate, destroyed 6,900 structures and sadly took the lives of 42 people.    

READER’S EDITORIAL: UNMASKING CAL FIRE -- ILLUMINATING THE SAN DIEGO COUNTY/CAL FIRE PLAN FOR JCFPD

 

By Patricia Landis, former board member, Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District

October 7, 2017 (Julian) -- I am a retired psychologist and not a journalist or investigative reporter. As a psychologist, my job was to listen. Maybe that is why so many individuals come and tell me “what’s going on.” I have become a repository of information about our fire department and I believe I need to share what I am hearing because it affects the lives of all of us living in the Julian-Cuyamaca fire district.

CAL FIRE HELICOPTER ASSIGNED TO “BORDER” FIRE MAKES HARD LANDING

 

East County News Service

September 1, 2017 (Dulzura) – A Cal Fire helicopter assigned to firefighting on the Border Fire south of Dulzura today made a hard landing in a field adjacent to the brush fire.

The pilot was the sole occupant on board and did not suffer any injuries, Cal Fire reports.

CAL FIRE REMINDS PUBLIC OF NEW LAWS REGULATING DRONES DURING EMERGENCIES

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 19, 2017 (San Diego) – Cal Fire Captain Isaac Sanchez has asked media to remind the public about several new laws passed by California’s Legislature last summer to address problems raised by drones that interfered with firefighting, including causing delays by firefighting aircraft.  Under the new laws, anyone whose drone interferes with emergency personnel can be charged with a misdemeanor and if their drone is damaged or destroyed in the process, they will not have legal recourse to hold emergency responders liable.

CAL FIRE TO CONDUCT PRESCRIBED BURN IN THE JAMUL AREA

 

Source:  Cal Fire

May 10, 2017 (Jamul) - CAL FIRE and San Diego County Fire, in cooperation with California Department of Fish & Wildlife, will be conducting a habitat restoration prescribed burn approximately 4 miles southeast of Jamul within the Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve. Burning of standing vegetation will occur on approximately 70 acres as part of CALFIRE’s Vegetation Management Program (VMP). Ignition will occur at approximately 8:00 AM on May 11, 2017 and smoke may be visible throughout the County.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY FIRE INCREASES STAFFING FOR EXPECTED RAINS

 

Source: CAL FIRE

February 16, 2017 (San Diego's East County) - With the arrival of another powerful winter storm on Friday February 17TH San Diego County Fire (SDCF) is once again taking steps to ensure an aggressive response to weather related incidents.  Although rain is the focus of this week’s storm, high winds are also expected and could potentially bring the threat of downed trees.  

RECALL PAPERS SERVED TO THREE SAN MIGUEL FIRE DIRECTORS

 

By Mike Allen

January 29, 2017 (Spring Valley) -- An already combustible situation at the San Miguel Fire Protection District was made more divisive on January 25th, when three members of the board were served notice that a recall campaign is being mounted to oust them.

CAL FIRE: A LEADER IN FLOOD RESPONSE

 

Source: CAL FIRE

January 21, 2017 (San Diego's East County) - Though CAL FIRE is most often highlighted in its role as a wildland fire fighting agency, the Department’s forces answer the call more than 300,000 times for other emergencies each year.  During the 1990s CAL FIRE was called upon several times to respond to serious flooding in the state. 

READER’S EDITORIAL: “GREAT DEAL OF NOTIFICATION” TO PUBLIC ON SAN MIGUEL FIRE DISTRICT BOARD PLANS TO WEIGH STAND-ALONG CONTRACT FOR FIRE SERVICES

 

Board member responds to Robert Perry's editorial: Discussion and possible vote July 6

Photo: Large crowd at a prior SMF meeting on financial issues prior to the contract with Cal Fire

By Theresa McKenna,  Board Member, San Miguel Fire Protection District

As I relayed in my phone conversation with Mr. Perry recently, I personally believe there has been a great deal of notification to the public on this specific topic.  In fact, significantly more notice has been given to the Community than was ever made by the prior Board that voted to contract out fire suppression services.

READER’S EDITORIAL: SAN MIGUEL FIRE TO VOTE JULY 6 ON SPLITTING WITH CAL FIRE: PUBLIC INPUT NEEDED

 

 

Update:  San Miguel Fire Protection District board member Theresa McKenna has responded to Robert Perry's editorial to detail how much notice and discussion has been held on this issue. Read her remarks here.

By Robert Perry, community resident

Photo:  Protest at station closed due to budget gaps back when San Miguel was a stand-alone station, before contracting with Cal Fire. Opinions ran hot on both sides of the partnership deal at that time.

July 2, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) --With zero public input and zero community discussion (thus far) the San Miguel Fire Protection District has an action item on the agenda for the board meeting of July 6, 2016 to "discuss and may approve returning to a stand alone District".  View agenda.

The district has contracted with CAL FIRE the past four years after facing a structural deficit of their own making.  There is one more year of the contract.

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.

RESIDENTS HEAR UPDATES ON BORDER FIRE, THANK FIREFIGHTERS AND VOICE SOME CONCERNS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: County Fire Chief Gary Croucher

June 23, 2016 (El Cajon) --At a community meeting Thursday night at the Los Coches Creek Elementary School in El Cajon, fire officials gave a briefing on steps they took to battle the Border Fire, which since Sunday has burned close to 7,400 acres, destroying 5 homes and 11 outbuildings.  

Residents voiced gratitude toward firefighters for  valiant efforts to save homes and lives, also acknowledging much that has improved since the 2003 and 2007 firestorms thanks to better investments in firefighting equipment and technology.

But some voiced concerns over areas they hope to see improved-- notably helping children and young teens forced to evacuate when parents were away at work, slow communications early on about the fire’s progress, animals lacking food and water in the evacuation zone, and inadequate water at Lake Morena for firefighting aircraft due to the city of San Diego draining the reservoir too low.

Pages