CAL FIRE

COUNTY, CAL FIRE LAUNCH PARAMEDIC SERVICE AT INTERMOUNTAIN FIRE STATION

 

July 2, 2015 (Ramona) – The San Diego County Fire Authority and CAL FIRE are making a major upgrade to fire and emergency medical services at the County’s Intermountain fire station. Starting July 1, new, around-the-clock paramedic service will be offered for the first time ever. The station is located east of Ramona along CA-78, a main route to Julian.

CAL FIRE, MILITARY STAND BY IN READINESS FOR LIGHTINING FIRES

 

By Miriam Raftery

File photo by Jim Pelley: Vallecitos Lightning Fire

June 26, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – CAL FIRE Captain Kendal Bortisser and County Fire Chief Tony Mecham advise that a plan is in place to ensure additional fire protection for the San Diego region in anticipation of dry thunderstorms and lightning predicted to move through Southern California this weekend.

CAL FIRE SUSPENDS OUTDOOR RESIDENTIAL BURNING

 

June 3, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) -- As drought conditions continue to increase fire danger in the region, CAL FIRE has suspended all burn permits for outdoor open residential burning within the State Responsibility Area of San Diego and Imperial Counties. This suspension takes effect June 1, 2015 and bans all residential outdoor burning of landscape debris including branches and leaves.

CAL FIRE ENDS NO-BURN PROCLAMATION

Update April 5, 2015 (San Diego's East County) -- Cal Fire has ended the no-burn proclamation due to improving conditions, higher humidity and availability of fire resources..

April 4, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Effective immediately, Cal Fire has issued a no-burn proclamation suspending burning permits and other uses of open fire, except for campfires in established campfire facilities in public campgrounds.

The order is due to the “extreme menace” posed by critical fire weather and acute dryness of vegetation and/or fire suppression forces being heavily committed to control fires, according to Dave Nissan, Deputy Chief of Cal-Fire’s San Diego unit.

NEW SAN MIGUEL FIRE BOARD TO CONSIDER RETURNING DISTRICT TO LOCAL CONTROL

Photo, left: Fire inspector Natalie Grimes receives recognition for her service

By Paul Kruze

January 15, 2015 (Spring Valley)--Following a campaign promise which rode a trio of new directors into office on the San Miguel Fire District Board last November, board member Theresa McKenna has introduced a proposal to return control of the agency to local management control. The district currently has a partnership with CAL FIRE to manage firefighting services that was adopted due to an earlier budget shortfall.

McKenna proposed that an ad hoc committee be formed to study the feasibility of the management change at the agency’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Wednesday evening, January 14th.

STATE COMPLETES INVESTIGATION OF SAN MIGUEL FIRE DISTRICT OVER FUNDING DISCREPANCIES: LOCAL TAXPAYERS TO FOOT BILL

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 7, 2015 (Spring Valley) – The State Controller’s Office has issued its final review report on the San Miguel Consolidated Fire Protection District’s administrative and internal accounting controls.

“Our review did not identify any significant deficiencies with the District’s administrative and internal accounting controls,” the report states. None-the-less, the report indicates the state plans to charge the district for the cost of the investigation. report indicates the state launched the investigation  because it had “reason to believe that the Annual Report of Financial Transactions submitted by the District is misstated, incomplete, or incorrect.”

NEW BOARD HOLDS FIRST MEETING IN SAN MIGUEL FIRE DISTRICT

 

By Paul Kruze

December 16, 2014 (Spring Valley) -- Promising a heightened attention to transparency and public involvement in its decisions and special attention to the area around the community of Crest, three newly-elected members of the San Miguel Fire District, Mike Vacio, Jim Ek, and Theresa McKenna, were sworn into office by El Cajon Superior Court Presiding Judge, Laura Halgren at last Wednesday’s regularly scheduled monthly board meeting.  The three replaced previously elected members, Richard Augustine, Chris Winter, and Jeffrey Lyle Nelson, who lost their bids to serve a second four-year term in the November General Election. The board positions held by William Kiel, Dave Rickards, Karrie Johnston, and Dan McMillan are slated for re-election in 2016.

CAL FIRE: AN IN DEPTH INTERVIEW

 

By Nadin Abbott and Tom Abbott

Photos Tom Abbott and Nadin Abbott

Reprinted with permission from Reporting San Diego

November 2, 2014 (San Diego) - Reporting San Diego sat down with Captain Ken Bortisser, the Public Information Officer of the Monte Vista Unit. Monte Vista is the name of the San Diego Administrative CAL FIRE unit. We talked about fire issues.

CAL FIRE CHIEF DISPUTES CANDIDATE STATEMENTS IN SAN MIGUEL FIRE RACE

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 22, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)—CAL FIRE Tony Mecham, head of the County Fire Authority,  has contacted East County Magazine to dispute statements and factual claims made by two candidates running for the San Miguel Fire District Board in their responses to our candidate questionnaire.  

Chief Mecham states that he is not endorsing any candidate but adds, “There are numerous statements that are factually false.”

COOKING FIRE DAMAGES EL CAJON APARTMENT

 

October 9, 2014 (El Cajon)—Cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S.  Tuesday, a fire caused by unattended cooking displaced a family of five and caused $100,000 in damage to an apartment in El Cajon. It is considered a total loss.

CAL-FIRE AIR TANKERS ARE FLYING AGAIN

 

Update October 9, 2014, 3 p.m. --CAL-FIRE'S air tanker fleet is back in the air effective 11 a.m. today, CAL FIRE Battalion Chief Nick Schuler has informed East County Magazine, after inspections found no structural or agfe-related problems.

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 9, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Retired CAL FIRE Chief Chief Bob Robeson called East County Magazine this morning with additional details on the crash that killed a CAL FIRE pilot in Yosemite and grounded CAL-FIRE’s 22 S-2T air tankers including details on backup aircraft available through the federal government.

CRASH GROUNDS 22 CAL-FIRE AIR TANKERS

 

 

East County News Service

October 8, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)—Amid peak fire season, a fatal crash has grounded all of California’s 22 S-2T air tankers, the Los Angeles Times Reports. That’s troubling news in San Diego, where the two worst wildfires in the state’s history both occurred in late October.

Yesterday, an air tanker battling the Dog Rock Fire in Yosemite National Park crashed, killing the pilot.  The cause is not yet known and the tankers will remain grounded until officials deem that they are safe, according to Daniel Berlant with CAL-FIRE.  

The tankers are capable of carrying up to 1,200 gallons of fire retardant each. Temporary grounding of the remaining 22 S-2T tankers leaves CAL-FIRE with 11 UH-1H Super Huey helicopters and 14 OV-10A airtactical aircraft. The aircraft can reach most fires within 20 minutes from 13 air attack and nie Helitack bases statewide, according to CAL FIRE’s website.

SANTA ANA WINDS FORECAST: CAL FIRE ANNOUNCES PREPARATIONS

 

October 1, 2014 (San Diego) – Santa Ana Winds are set to sweep into the area, and CAL FIRE is boosting preparations.

On behalf of CAL FIRE San Diego Unit and County Fire Chief Tony Mecham, I would like to advise you on some of the preparations that are being made in anticipation of the hot dry weather and Santa Ana winds that will be occurring over the next few days,” says Fire Captain and Public Information Officer Kendal E. Bortisser. Those preparations include:

CAL FIRE PROVIDES UPDATE ON FIRES BURNING STATEWIDE

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: King Fire viewed from Lake Tahoe, by Steve Ellsworth, courtesy Cal Fire Blogspot

September 20, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) --Over 7,800 firefighters continue to battle seven major wildfires burning in California, CAL-FIRE reports. Of greatest concern is the King Fire in El Dorado County, which has burned nearly 81,000 acres and continues to threaten 21,000 structures. A suspected arsonist has been arrested for allegedly starting the King Fire.

Overnight, crews made progress on several fires including full containment on the destructive Boles Fire in Siskiyou County and the Silverado Fire in Orange County. Firefighters continue to mop up on several other fires with full containment expected this weekend for the Courtney Fire in Madera County, the June Fire in Mono County and the Meadow Fire in Yosemite National Park.

For details on each of the many fires burning statewide, click "read more" and scroll down.

EVACUATIONS IN YOSEMITE DUE TO WILDFIRE

 

Photo courtesy National Park Service: Merced River with Half Dome in background

EVACUATIONS IN YOSEMITE DUE TO WILDFIRE

By Miriam Raftery

September 8, 2014 (Yosemite)--A wildfire burning in Yosemite National Park has forced closure of some of the Park’s most popular trails. Strong winds have whipped the fire into a 700 acre conflagration that on Sunday forced evacuation of over 100 hikers and climbers, including 40 on the trail to Half Dome, some airlifted out by helicopter.

WHY ARE SO MANY FIRE STATIONS CLOSED—AND WHAT’S BEING DONE BY COUNTY TO BOOST STAFFING?

 

 

A quarter of all rural stations were closed –at the same time—during April

An East County Magazine special investigative report

By Miriam Raftery

July 31, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – The County Fire Authority has touted its successes in preventing the May wildfires in North County from destroying thousands of homes despite a county-wide disaster declaration.  Granted, a lot has improved since the devastating 2003 and 2007 firestorms in our region--the worst in California's history. But if fires were to start in East County today, the outcome could be tragic. An East County Magazine investigation raises serious doubts over  inadequate volunteer firefighter staffing and the ability to respond even to routine house fires and medical calls in some rural communities.

Last October,  our investigative report,"Closed for Fire Season" revealed that Boulevard’s fire station was closed for two months during fire season and Jacumba’s station also had some dark days- -including one when a resident died of a medical emergency after a delay in emergency services arriving. The County responded by funding emergency staffing and according to Supervisor Jacob’s staff, these two stations remained open every day  for at least several months thereafter, an ECM records check in late April revealed.   

But on July 9, Craig Williams, an information technology provider for the Campo Fire Department, advised ECM that “without any notification to the community leaders."  two days ago Cal Fire “moved the overtime, off-budget, paid Cal Fire firefighters out of Boulevard to Jacumba Hot Springs. Now  Boulevard is stuck with Fire Authority `volunteers’ only, just like Campo.’”

Worse,  a new investigation by ECM reveals that this is the tip of an iceberg--with many stations understaffed and some closed for months. 

CAL FIRE BANS BURNING AND TARGET SHOOTING DUE TO FIRE DANGER

 

By Miriam Raftery

Cal Fire has declared a high fire hazard as we enter the holiday weekend.  Already this year, Cal Fire has responded to 2,118 fires – a 70% increase over the average for this same time period in recent years. 

In an effort to reduce the amount of fires caused by open burning and shooting within the County of San Diego, CAL FIRE has declared a high fire hazard. 

CAMPO FIRE DESTROYS STRUCTURE

FIRE IN CAMPO BURNS A STRUCTURE

 

By Nadin Abbott

May 13, 2014 (Campo)--Santa Ana winds fanned  a structure fire in Campo into a brush fire that fueled a full wildland fire response. Wind drove the fire to jump across State Route 94,  from the south side of the freeway to the north side.

Reports on whether the burned structure was a trailer or shed were conflicting, nor was information provided on whether the structure had been occupied. In this poverty-stricken area, it is not unusual for people to be living in shacks, sheds and trailers.

Randy Surla, an area resident, defied the mandatory evacuation order. “I am staying put,” he explained. “This is the only house I have and I am going to protect it as best as I can.”

CHARIOT FIRE CAUSED BY BLM JEEP, CAL FIRE CONCLUDES

 

By Miriam Raftery

May 9, 2014 (Mount Laguna) -- CAL FIRE investigators have determined that the July 6, 2013 Chariot Fire southwest of Julian was caused by a Jeep Wrangler  owned and operated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which ignited the dry vegetation under the vehicle. The CAL FIRE finding confirms allegations previously made by an attorney representing fire victims, who had indicated a private investigation had revealed evidence that a BLM Jeep started the blaze.

The Chariot Fire started just before 1 p.m. in eastern San Diego County near Butterfield Ranch Resort and the Great Southern Overland Stage Route on land managed by the BLM. The fire burned 7,055 acres on both federal and public lands and destroyed 149 structures, including a historic lodge, cabins at the Shrine Camp, and others. Over 2,100 firefighters battled the fire during the 10 days it took to contain the blaze.

THIS FIRE SEASON IS EXPECTED TO BE AMONG THE WORST IN STATE HISTORY, CAL FIRE AND INTERIOR DEPT. SECRETARY WARN



Photo: Interior Secretary Sally Jewell thanks a Golden Eagle hotshot firefighter from the Bureau of Indian Affairs

 

By Nadin Abbott

Photos by Nadin and Tom Abbott

May 8, 2014 (Spring Valley) The number of fires this year is higher than normal.  Interstate 8 has closed due to fires twice already this year during the Gun Fire at Mount Laguna and the Jacumba fire just this week.  Drought and climate change are key factors, officials warn—and this could be our worse wildfire season on record.

“The drought is expanding throughout the state of California” as well as the Southwest region, said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell during a Wildfire Awareness Week event at CAL FIRE Headquarters in Spring Valley on May 6th. 

She cited a new report just issued by the White House, noting that climate change “increases the risk from drought.”

"WILDFIRE AWARENESS WEEK" DECLARED IN CALIFORNIA FOR MAY 4 - 10

 

CAL FIRE Encourages Wildfire Preparedness and Prevention

May 8, 2014 (Sacramento) – Drought conditions have led to a significant increase in wildfire activity and to ensure Californians are ready, Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. has declared May 4-10, 2014 as “Wildfire Awareness Week”. CAL FIRE is reminding residents during Wildfire Awareness Week of the dangers posed by wildfires and the simple steps that should be followed to prepare for and prevent them.

FIRE NEAR JACUMBA CLOSES 1-8 TEMPORARILY