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October 31, 2007

So Cal Fire Map, Santa Ana Winds on October 22

 
The fire mappers at NorthTree Fire drew this amazing map of the Santa Ana winds driving the fires on October 22. Click this link for a larger image.

Image with permission of NorthTree Fire.

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October 30, 2007

Southern California Wildfires Video

 
A firefighter's wife put this together as a dedication to her husband and other firefighters who responded to the October blazes. Her husband was part of a strike team from the Bay Area 300 miles north. She put together a collection of the more spectacular photos of the incidents.

She even snuck in the L.A. Times image of the firefighters huddled on a hilltop draped in their survival tents (shake and bake). Gutsy move, they hate their images used without license. Let's see if they get worked up and make YouTube take it down. I hope not. Check out the little rocker's work of art!

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October 27, 2007

Cal Fire Crew In Harris Fire Burn-Over; Story

 
SignonSanDiego has shed light on the story of the four Cal Fire firefighters and the two civilians they tried to save near Protrero during the initial attack phase of the Harris Fire last Sunday.

Veteran Cal Fire Captain Ray Rapue and his crew of three responded to the Harris Fire from their station in San Marcos an hour north of the fire. Firefighter Andrew Pikop and Captain Rapue are recovering from burns while their two (unidentified) crew mates remain in critical condition. Read the full story here.

From the article;

" Information about the firefight has been scarce. Cal Fire has a team of 15 investigating the incident, and everyone involved has been ordered not to discuss the details. But a picture of what happened is beginning to emerge.

Unit Chief Henri Brachais, the lead investigator, said the firefighters were trying to save Thomas and Richard Varshock, whose home is off state Route 94 and Emery Lane in a remote part of San Diego County near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Thomas Varshock died. His 15-year-old son, whose hospital bed is down the hall from Pikop's, has burns to more than 50 percent of his body. On Wednesday, he was covered with a white blanket. His face was bandaged and he was hooked to a ventilator.

Brachais said the fire crew was stopped at the Varshock home when “a burn-over occurred.”

“The fire went up the hill and flames went over the truck,” he said"...

"...Engine 3387 arrived in Potrero at about 11 a.m. It pulled up to the Varshock residence about an hour later.

What happened next isn't entirely clear, but at some point all four firefighters and the Varshocks took cover in the firetruck.

By then, the fire was raging and Santa Ana winds were knocking down power lines.

“At first I wanted to help my crew get out, but once the fire blew up it disoriented me,” Pikop said.

Somehow he became separated from the firetruck. He heard his colleagues yelling his name, but he was running from flames and couldn't find them.

“I ran through flames. I ran from flames. But the fire caught up to me,” he said.

He figured he was on his own. He assumed the rest of the crew was dead...."

A Forest Service helicopter crew came to their aid and that pilot and crew deserve recognition. I'm sure what they will find is Captain Rapue did everything possible to keep this from happening to his crew and the Varshocks.

If you pray offer one up today for the injured firefighters and also one for the young Varshock boy. He lost his dad and his home.

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October 26, 2007

DC-10 Supertanker, Tanker 910 Over Slide Fire

 
Great video of Tanker 910 making a drop over the Slide Fire on October 22.

The converted DC-10 Supertanker is making a drop on the right flank of the fire near the head. Unfortunately the 40 mph winds dispersed the retardant over a too wide area but the point has been made again that this weapon is worth its weight.

I'm betting the Forest Service people who killed the 747 Supertanker earlier this year feel kinda stupid right now.


We should have a minimum of 10 of these giants at the ready, year round.

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San Diego Wildfires Photos

 

The San Diego fires images via Flickr.

Harris Fire October 23, 2007

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Harris Fire Update, Fireline Command Report

 
Highlights from the Harris Fire Incident 209 filed at 0600 10/26;

Size/Area
Involved
84,300 ACRES

% Contained
or MMA
20 Percent

Remarks:
CDF Team 9 is in unified command with Forest Service, and San Miguel. 5 civilians have been killed and 21 injured by this fire. 4500 people are or have been threatened and evacuated. An estimated 200 homes have been destroyed or damaged. 1500 homes are or have been threatened. Detailed damage assessment is about 55% complete and those numbers are reported in section 24. Initial attack resources are being rested. Crew R&R stations have been established on the fire. Resource requests are critical. NORCAL Team 1, a Type 2 federal incident management team, is integrated with CAL FIRE Team 9.

Major problems and concerns (control problems, social/political/economic concerns or impacts, etc.) Relate critical resources needs identified above to the Incident Action Plan.
Fire behavior remains active in old and extremely dry fuels. The heavy fuels and steep terrain on the northern edge of the fire present few control opportunities. Active structure protection continued in Lyons Valley. Many resource orders remain unfilled due to competing incidents in the southern part of the state. As the fire hit a decision point yesterday in Lyons Valley fire commanders implemented a contingency plan, which included an evacuation order of Lawson Valley, implementation of structure protection plans and a secondary dozer and holding line.

Given the current constraints, when will the chosen management strategy succeed?
Low confidence. Personnel are exhausted. Some additional resources are trickling in.

Communities/Critical Infrastructure Threatened (in 12, 24, 48 and 72 hour time frames):
12 hours:
High-voltage power grid, Potrero, Barrett Junction, Barrett Lake area, Engineer Springs, Dulzura, Deerhorn Valley, Lawson Valley, Jamul, Lyons Valley.

Significant events today (closures, evacuations, significant progress made, etc.):
Approximately 500 more homes were ordered evacuated yesterday. Yesterday re-entry for residents only was allowed in the Thousand Trails, Potrero and Tecate neighborhoods. Today re-entry for residents only will be allowed in the communities of western Jamul.
------------------

See the terrain involved from the Lyons Peak web cam.

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October 25, 2007

Harris Fire Rages On, Evacuations Ordered

 
Info from Inciweb

Incident: Harris
Released: 2 hrs. ago (Cal Fire website issued the order at 1400 hrs.)

The Harris Fire has jumped a portion of Lake Barrett and is now an immediate threat to life and property to the communities of Lawson Valley and Carveacre. Residents should immediately evacuate the area. The San Diego Sheriffs Department has initiated the Reverse 911 system to notify residents.

Affected Areas:
Carveacres Region

  • North of Wilson Creek
  • South of Pearson Canyon
  • East of Kearchoffer Flat
  • West of Horsethief Canyon

Lawson Valley Region

  • South of Loveland Reservoir
  • North of the Community of Lyon’s Valley
  • East of Beaver Hollow
  • West of Kearchoffer Flats

Evacuation Routes:

Carve Acres Region – Japatul Valley Road to Interstate 8

Lawson Valley Region – Lawson Valley Road to Skyline Truck Trail to Lyon’s Valley Road to Highway 94 West to the designated Red Cross shelter.

**All residents evacuated need to check in at a Red Cross Shelter to provide contact information for re-entry and emergency contact.

Public Shelter location for these areas:

Santana High School – Santee

More-----

Summary

This fire has burned 81,100 acres and is 10 percent contained. The fire started October 21 and is burning at Harris Ranch Road and both sides of Highway 94 in Portrero in San Diego County. There have been 25 civilian injuries and one death as well as seven firefighter injuries on this fire. An estimated 200 homes have been destroyed or damaged. 1,500 homes are still threatened.

4500 people have been evacuated and additional evacuations are being ordered. The communities of Chula Vista, San Diego, San Miguel, Portrero, Barrett Junction, Barett Lake area, Engineer Springs, Dulzura, Deerhorn Valley, Lawson Valley, Jamul, Lyons Valley and homes along Millar Ranch Road are threatened. 1,611 firefighters are assigned under unified command. The estimated cost of this fire to date is $3.4 million.

More incident information at Cal Fire.

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SoCal Wildfires: View From a Retired Fire Captain

 
(I was asked to submit an article on the Wildfires burning in Southern California by the good people at FireRescue.com. Read the full article here.)

Watching President Bush arrive on Air Force One to tour the fire damage in the San Diego region adds a punctuation mark to the tragic fire events of the past week. What we're witnessing is an unprecedented fire event that is testing California in a number of ways.

It started with the Canyon Fire in Malibu, grabbing the attention of local and national media. Later that morning, the Buckweed Fire in Canyon Country above Los Angeles started followed quickly by news the Ranch Fire near Castaic could threaten the town of Piru.

With urgency, fire crews rushed to these potentially catastrophic Santa Ana wind-driven fires. Firefighters were rushing Code 3 to save lives and homes.

As the Los Angeles County fires became established, news of two fires in San Diego County crossed the wires. Ramona was being evacuated, Rancho Bernardo was put on alert.

Later in the day ,the San Diego County Sheriff was quoted saying, "This will be worse than the Cedar Fire." The Cedar Fire destroyed more than 2,300 homes four years ago, burned 280,000 acres and killed 15 people including Steven Rucker, a firefighter from Novato.

The Harris Fire near Otay Mountain south of the Witch Fire in Ramona became a concern shortly after. This was indeed beginning to look like 2003, with fires burning in two regions of the Southland. An added element to this year's version was the addition of two fires burning in the Lake Arrowhead area in San Bernadino County.

Stretched resources
Needless to say, resources were, and are still, stretched. Due to high winds, fixed wing aircraft were grounded; the perfect storm was developing. This was forming to become "the big one," that fire first responders discuss — the career fire, the big show.

These established major fires were quickly joined by the Santiago, Rice, Rosa, Poomacha, Magic and Ammo fires. Each of these posed threats to life and homes. Eventually, more than 500,000 citizens were told to evacuate — an inconceivable number and seemingly an impossible task, a number larger than the Katrina evacuation.

Against all the numbers, order prevailed. Evacuees found shelter, firefighters went to work and the government entities that support both came to the aid.

Firefighters don't shut down when there's not enough help, they buck up and get to work. Not one fire had ideal resources. The Harris Fire in particular was extremely under manned. At its peak, the command team was working with only 255 fire personnel with no help in sight. In an ordinary circumstance, that fire alone would have more than 2,000 firefighters and support personnel.

As the Harris Fire worked its way towards the San Diego suburb of Chula Vista, it had to pass through the San Miguel Fire District. San Miguel is a small town just east of Chula Vista. Whatever was coming their way was going to be up to them to confront — no help would be coming no matter how bad it would get.


Fire Chief Augie Ghio was quoted the next day in a television interview, saying, "We're OK, our guys can handle everything, no complaints."

When asked if he had slept, he said maybe a half an hour in the past three days. Underscore, no complaints. This man and his firefighters are about community and service.

It's this spirit that we see from the Governor's office as well and a similar spirit is apparent in the evacuation centers. As horrible as circumstances were and are, a positive attitude is present.

As a life long Californian, I can only express pride in what I have witnessed. Trees will re grow, homes will be rebuilt. The state has been tested and from my view has passed with flying colors.


Please pay a visit to FireRescue1.com.

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Interactive Map of San Diego Fires

 
I wanted to put the map here but for some reason it will not resolve. Follow this route to a great map of the fires, both active and fully contained.

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California Wildfires Satellite Images

 
Progressive satellite images of the Southern California wildfires from MODIS Rapidfire.

Image from 10/26


Image from 10/25


Image from 10/24


Image from 10/23


Image from 10/22

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October 24, 2007

Harris Fire Running Hard In Jamul & Lyons Valley

 
While some fires are laying down elsewhere and backslapping goes on at Qualcom Park firefighters and some residents of Jamul and Lyons Valley are fending off flames as seen from the Lyons Peak web cam image below.
The good news is there are fresh firefighters assigned to the incident as noted in the freshly filed Incident 209 report.
Note that 200 homes have already been destroyed in this devastating fire.

The image is a south view from the Lyons Peak webcam.

Up to tonight the residents of of Lyons Peak and Jamul have been holding off the advancing flames. Up to tonight the fire was moving in a predictable pattern as the offshore Santa Ana's were blowing west. The changing winds, now coming from the west is pushing the fire both north and east!

Information from the Incident 209 filed 1900 hrs tonight offers the following;

Communities/Critical Infrastructure Threatened (in 12, 24, 48 and 72 hour time frames):
12 hours:
High-voltage power grid, Chula Vista, San Diego, San Miguel, Potrero, Barrett Junction, Barrett Lake area, Engineer Springs, Dulzura, Deerhorn Valley, Lawson Valley, Jamul, Lyons Valley and homes along Millar Ranch Road.

Significant events today (closures, evacuations, significant progress made, etc.):
The fire was held at the edge of Chula Vista and San Miguel DPA. The returning onshore flow has moved the fire to the northeast threatening structures along Highway 94 from Jamul to the east, Lyons Valley to the north and Jamaica to the west. The regional communications equipment on Lyons Peak was damaged by fire, cutting off power and destroying the back-up generator. Crews installed a portable repeater to support fire communications. The fire progressed north in the Barrett Lake area, consuming old, heavy fuels.

Major problems and concerns (control problems, social/political/economic concerns or impacts, etc.) Relate critical resources needs identified above to the Incident Action Plan.
Extreme fire behavior due to fuel and weather conditions. East/northeast winds are active in the eastern portion of the fire. A more normal onshore flow is influencing the western portion. This wind confluence is causing erratic fire behavior. Major wind reversals in this area have caused firefighter fatalities during past incidents. Heavy fuels and steep terrain on the northern edge of the fire present few control opportunities. Crew fatigue is a serious problem. Some crews are being pulled off the line in spite of a lack of relief. Many resource orders remain unfilled due to competing incidents in the southern part of the state.

Projected incident movement/spread during next operational period (in 12, 24, 48, and 72 hour time frames):
12 hours: Fire will continue to move to the north and east.

Remarks:
CDF Team 9 is in unified command with Forest Service, San Diego City, Chula Vista and San Miguel. A total of 21 civilians have been injured and one killed by this fire. 4500 people are or have been threatened and evacuated. Additional evacuations are being ordered. An estimated 200 homes have been destroyed or damaged. 1500 homes are or have been threatened. Detailed damage assessment is about 55% complete and those numbers are reported in section 24. Many initial attack resources have been engaged continuously since the beginning of the fire. Resource requests are critical. An additional 271 people are assigned to the incident and are either enroute or were initial attack and have not been released from the line to check in. The total personnel count is 1611.

Size/Area
Involved
75,000 ACRES, 10% Contained

Projected Final Size:
100,000


View Larger Map


Pray for the safety of fire personnel and the homeowners of this peaceful valley.

Where's Geraldo? Where's CNN, Fox and the L.A. Times?


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L.A. Times Is Fire Blogging

 
Editor & Publisher reports the Los Angeles Times is blogging the fires.

Check out their fire blog here.

Clean, great resources blog roll and the full weight of their reporting staff behind it.

They are following a trend of established (print) media understanding audience hunger for incident news in blog form. I've blogged on the trend before and believe now it will be the norm.

Cheers old media!

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Southern California Fires Satellite Image

 
Modis RapidFire Image from 10/23

Note the activity in Mexico and how the Harris Fire has apparently crossed the border.

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Slide Fire, Grass Valley Fire Updates

 
The Grass Valley Fire is at 1,000 acres burned with an estimated 200 homes destroyed. The slide Fire has burned over 5,100 acres and has destroyed over 200 homes.

Exact counts are not available but the reported count is 200 homes on each fire. There is some confusion as the incident base camp is changing locations at the same time the new command team moves in.

Compounding overall efforts is the lack of personnel, damage assessment is pushed back.

These two fires ordinarily would require 2,000 + firefighters and support personnel each. The bark beetle kill in the forest is the added element that makes the fires more volatile. A lack of driving wind does not mean the fire is going to die on its own.
All the brown trees you see from overhead are dead trees from the bark beetle kill.

Currently (as per official incident 209 reports filed 0600 today) there are 561 assigned to the Slide Fire and 548 fighting the Grass Valley Fire.

The good news from the Grass Valley Fire is found in the 209 report this morning;

Today's observed fire behavior (leave blank for non-fire events):

"Night, light interior burning no significant movement"

Also from the Grass Valley Fire report;

Significant events today (closures, evacuations, significant progress made, etc.):

"Damage assessment, mitigate work rest issues that exist, CA-IMT #1 takes command of Slide 0600. NorCal Team II remains in command of the Grass Valley Fire. Both incidents will be unified in planning and resource allocation"

Projected incident movement/spread during next operational period (in 12, 24, 48, and 72 hour time frames): 12 hours:

"With winds decreasing expect little movement, still concern regarding the current wind shift and reversal of the fire"

Slide Fire Information from the 209 report;

26: Communities/Critical Infrastructure Threatened (in 12, 24, 48 and 72 hour time frames):
12 hours:


"Green Valley, Running Springs, Live Oak, Fredalba, Smiley Park, Calavery Chapel Camp, National Children's Forest and Visitors Center, Arrowbear lake, Snow Valley, Nordic Rim Ski Area and Deer Lick

24 hours:
Fiberoptic lines, cell sites, gas lines, water storage and distribution, SOCAL Edison powerlines."

Major problems and concerns (control problems, social/political/economic concerns or impacts, etc.) Relate critical resources needs identified above to the Incident Action Plan.

"High density residential properties intermixed amongst bug killed timber, with poor to limited access, lack of resources, continued adverse weather and extremly dry fuels. Inability to fully assess structure loss due to fire activity."

Slide Fire homes lost, according to the incident 209 report is # Destroyed 200

Note;
Robin Prince of the US Forest Service is reporting on channel 9 Los Angeles that only 2 homes have burned in the Slide Fire and 100 lost in the Grass Valley Fire.
It's astounding the Forest Service would put this spokeswoman on the air without proper consultation and training.
She and the Forest Service have to know the people evacuated and waiting for word from their communities are not well served when given conflicting data.
The community deserves better from (off site) media relations personnel who have no other work to do but prepare press releases and deal with the media.
Shameful and irresponsible!


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Harris Fire, 200 Homes Destroyed, 10% Containment

 
The question to which fire is burning Lyons Peak is answered in the Incident 209 report for the Harris fire filed 0600 today. Fox 11 briefly showed structures burning in one of the communities within the Harris Fire boundaries. An unpopulated peak is a non story in comparison.

I heard a fire crew from Mexico offered their services and were turned down. Sometimes you have to wonder who is making decisions. One firefighter friend of mine wondered aloud why they aren't mining healthy guys from the Qualcom parking lot.
Yeah I know liabilities etc... There would be lawyers lining up, sadly.


More from the Harris Fire official incident report;

Significant events today (closures, evacuations, significant progress made, etc.):
The fire was held at the edge of Chula Vista and San Miguel DPA. The returning onshore flow has moved the fire to the northeast threatening structures along Highway 94 from Jamul to the east and Jamacha to the west. Lyons Peak was burned and the fire jumped perimeter control lines in the area.

Major problems and concerns (control problems, social/political/economic concerns or impacts, etc.) Relate critical resources needs identified above to the Incident Action Plan.
Extreme fire behavior due to fuel and weather conditions. East/northeast winds are active in the eastern portion of the fire. A more normal onshore flow is influencing the western portion. This wind confluence is causing erratic fire behavior. Heavy fuels and steep terrain on the northern edge of the fire present few control opportunities. Most resource orders remain unfilled due to competing incidents in the southern part of the state.

Projected incident movement/spread during next operational period (in 12, 24, 48, and 72 hour time frames):
12 hours: Fire will continue to move to the north and east.

Remarks:
CDF Team 9 is in unified command with Forest Service, San Diego City, Chula Vista and San Miguel. A total of 21 civilians have been injured and one killed by this fire. 4500 people are or have been threatened and evacuated. Additional evacuations are being ordered. An estimated 200 homes have been destroyed or damaged. 1500 homes are or have been threatened. Most initial attack resources have been engaged continuously since the beginning of the fire. Resource requests are critical. An additional 452 people are assigned to the incident and are either enroute or were initial attack and have not been released from the line to check in. The total personnel count is 1211.

Given the current constraints, when will the chosen management strategy succeed?
Low confidence. Personnel are exhausted. Some additional resources are trickling in.

Growth Potential - Extreme


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Lyons Peak Webcam Overrun By Fire

 
I've referred to the Lyons Peak webcam for 4 days now because it offers a 360' view of the San Diego back country. I've also been watching as fire approaches Lyons Peak itself. This morning fire has assaulted the Lyon Peal Lookout and associated outbuildings.
You can watch the assault on the Lyons Peak cam here.

You can assume the camera is toast if you get a blank screen.

Sadly, as much as I have spent monitoring these fires I have no idea what the name of the fire burning this peak is called. If it's not a part of the Harris Fire it soon will be.

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Rice Fire, 200 Homes Destroyed, Fallbrook Evac.

 
Rice Fire Map from CBS 8

From the Incident 209 report 10/23 1830 hrs.


Size/Area
Involved
7,500 ACRES

% Contained
or MMA
10 Percent

Significant events today (closures, evacuations, significant progress made, etc.):
Active burning in the Rainbow Glen area. Evacuation of Deluz Canyon area.

Projected incident movement/spread during next operational period (in 12, 24, 48, and 72 hour time frames):

12 hours:
Into Fallbrook, Santa Margerita drainage, Deluz-Sandia Creek drainages.
24 hours:
Camp Pendleton, Oceanside.

Today's observed fire behavior (leave blank for non-fire events):
Long range spotting, rapid rates of spread.


Communities/Critical Infrastructure Threatened (in 12, 24, 48 and 72 hour time frames)
12 hours: Fallbrook
24 hours:
Fallbrook, Oceanside

Given the current constraints, when will the chosen management strategy succeed?
Poor
------------------

575 Fire personnel on scene.


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October 23, 2007

San Diego Fire Map

 
This interactive map CBS8 San Diego is rewriting the book on incident blogging. Great mashup.


View Larger Map

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Southern California Fires Updates

 
Fires Updates
Date Time News and Notes
10/23 1525 Update Rosa; the fire has burned 350 acres and is 70 percent contained. The fire has threatened 175 residence.
10/23 1520 Update Ranch; The fire has burned 54,518 acres and is 10% contained. Numerous residential structures are threatened by the fire.
10/23 1515 Update Canyon; The fire has burned 4,400 acres and is 15% contained. Numerous residential and commercial structures are threatened by fire.
10/23 1515 Update Magic; The fire has burned 1,500 acres and is 40% contained. The fire is threatening 900 residence and 50 outbuildings. Continued Red Flag conditions.
10/23 1500 Update Buckweed; The fire has burned 37,812 acres and is 27% contained. The fire is threatening 55,000 residence, 3 residence are damaged and 15 destroyed. The fire has threatened 300 commercial properties and 100 outbuildings. 17 outbuildings were destroyed. High winds associated with extreme Santa Ana conditions. Red Flag weather conditions predicted for the next 24 to 48 hours.
10/23 1455 Update Rice; The fire has burned 6,100 acres and is 0% contained. 1 injury has been reported. 2,500 residence have been threatened, 30 damaged and 500 destroyed. Erratic and extreme fire behavior.
10/23 1445 Update Harris; The fire has burned 70,000 acres and is 5% contained. 5 injuries have been reported. 2,000 residence are threatened, 250 are damaged and 200 destroyed. Extreme fire behavior due to weather conditions. Fire is threatening to establish in the Otay River drainage and burn through Chula Vista.
10/23 1445 Update Cajon; The fire has burned 250 acres and is 50% contained. No injuries are reported to date. No structures are threatened. Steep rugged terrain and high winds.
10/23 1430 Update Poomacha;(CA-MVU-10643) The fire has burned 1,000 acres and is 0% contained. Injuries reported to date are 8. Structures that are threatened are 2,000. Extreme fire behavior, hi wind, low humidity.
10/23 1425 Update Ammo Fire;(CA-MCP-001111) The fire has burned 350 acres and is 16% contained. No injuries have been reported. 50 structures are threatened.
10/23 1415 Update Witch Fire; The fire has burned 164,000 acres and is 1% contained. There have been 7 injuries to date.
10/22 1800 Sedgewick Fire; is 100% contained at 710 acres.
10/22 1800 Coronado Hills Fire; is 100% contained at 300+ acres.
10/22 1400 Coronado Hills Fire; 300+ acres, multiple structures lost in Discover Hills, San Marcos. The fire is heading to Elfin Forest and Harmony Grove.
10/22 1400 Harris Fire; 20,000 acres, the aircraft are grounded at this time due to winds. Southwest power line is off.
10/22 1345 Rice Fire; 300+ acres, the fire has jumped I-15 and aHwy 395. It is burning into Fallbrook, 1 structure has burned.
10/22 1345 Witch Fire; 10,000 acres, structures lost in Poway, Rancho Bernardo, the fire is heading to Carmel Mountain Ranch 4-S Ranch. There are 20 civilian injuries, casualties are probable.
10/22 1330 Valley/Slide Fire; The Green Valley and Slide fires are being managed as one fire. The fire has burned 600+ ac. No injuries, structures have been destroyed in the Community of Arrowhead, and some structures have been destroyed in Green Valley Lake. All roads going to the mountain communities are closed. Evacuations are in place for Arrow Bear, Arrowhead, Running Springs, Green Valley Lake, Twin Peaks.
10/22 0930 Buckweed Fire; 30,000 acres, 3,800 structures threatened in Santa Clarita Area, 25 structures lost, Fire burning towards Magic Mountain, 3 civilian injuries, (1 major, 2 Minor). 1 minor firefighter injury . winds increasing through canyons.
10/22 0930 Santiago Fire; 8,800 ac. 30% contained, 1 structure destroyed, 2 structures damaged, Portola Hills and Foothill Ranch threatened, Unified Command with City of Orange.
10/22 0930 Ranch Fire; 29,000 acres, multiple structures lost, evac in communities of Halsey, Oak Canyon, Val Verde, and Piru, The fire may burn across Hwy 126.

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Harris Fire, 50 Homes Destroyed, Crews Exhausted

 
Below are points from the Incident 209 Report filed 0600 today. You can appreciate the heroic efforts being put forth by the firefighting personnel battling this blaze. If anyone needs help it is these guys.
Note this significant fact; 275 total personnel on a 70,000 acre fire

" Significant events today (closures, evacuations, significant progress made, etc.):
The fire burned 50+ homes in Deerhorn Valley Fire and Honey Springs, citizens are sheltered at Fire Station 66. Fire moved rapidly to the west/ southwest to Chula Vista and Otay Lake and north to the south end of Barrett Lake. Firefighters are engaged in protecting a critical Power Grid sub-station and a water treatment plant.

Projected incident movement/spread during next operational period (in 12, 24, 48, and 72 hour time frames):
12 hours: Fire will continue to move to the west/southwest and north given current weather conditions.

Given the current constraints, when will the chosen management strategy succeed?
No confidence. Personnel are exhausted and no additional resources have arrived.

Today's observed fire behavior (leave blank for non-fire events):
Extreme rates of spread. Structure consumption.

Remarks:
An estimated 200 to 500 homes have been destroyed or damaged. 2000+ are threatened. One additional civilian suffered burns and was treated and transported to a local hospital. A total of 20 civilians have been injured and one killed by this fire. Smoke and weather conditions make air operations difficult. Over 3000 people have been evacuated. Additional evacuations are being ordered. Most resources have been engaged continuously since the beginning of the fire. Resource requests are critical.

Current Weather Conditions
Wind Speed:
14 mph Temperature: 76
Wind Direction: N N/E Relative Humidity: 8

Incident Commander
Howard Windsor


Image NBC San Diego with permission.

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San Diego Wildfires News Resources

 

October 22, 2007

Southern California Fires, Satellite Imagery

 
From Modis RapidFire

Click on the optional sizes tabs on the Modis site.

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Witch Fire Update

 
Comprehensive blog coverage CBS8 San Diego.

I once lived in the region residing in Escondido, San Marcos and Del Mar. When I read earlier that Del Mar was being evacuated I couldn't believe it. I also can't get a grip on how 350,000 people evacuated the area. I doubt that number was reached. These are Katrina numbers.

CBS8 reports the notice;

" DEL MAR MANDATORY EVACUATIONS
Evacuations have been ordered for the following areas: South of Del Dios Highway, north of Sorrento Valley Road and west of Black Mountain Road to the ocean. Evacuees are being advised to go to centers at Carlsbad High School, Encinitas Senior and Community Center and Qualcomm Stadium."

Witch Fire Evacuation Map

Speaking of Katrina, I am proud of my State. You don't hear crying by affected residents to the press that the government isn't doing enough for them. If you live in fire country and one buzzes your space it's understood. Through tragedy Californians buck up, count the pieces and rebuild. As long as family and friends are safe all else can be replaced. I've seen this all my life and have never heard anyone affected by wildfire in California blame the government for a natural disaster.

All I ever here is thank you to firefighters for their efforts!

On that subject firefighters are stretched thin, some going 24 hour shifts or more. Take a moment during the day tomorrow and offer a good thought for their safety.

Finally tonight it appears more than 1,000 homes have been lost between the fires in Arrowhead, San Diego County and Los Angeles County. Say a prayer for those families as well.

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Harris Fire Update

 
The West view from the Lyons Peak webcam shows a fire front at the base of San Miguel Peak, between Jamul and Costa Mesa.


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Weather in Jamul is warm with winds gusting to 17 mph from the East.
The wind will intensify through the night with winds in the 20 mph range until 11 am Tuesday.

Jamul is in a valley, winds on the peaks will be much higher according to the expanded report from the link above. Tuesday weather for the South County;

"Sunny...warmer. Areas of smoke and patchy blowing dust. Highs 92 to 97 in the western valleys to 88 to 93 near the foothills. Winds east 25 to 35 mph...diminishing to 20 to 30 mph late. Gusts to 65 mph...diminishing to 50 mph late."

If you look at the south view from the webcam link this weather forecast can only mean more trouble for the very active south flank of the Harris Fire.

Fire facts from SDCountyEmergency.com;

"10-22-07 5:02 p.m. CAL FIRE update: The Harris Fire is well over 20,000 acres. Mapping and accuracy of acres is difficult due to rapid rate of fire spread. There is 0% containment and the fire’s spread is moving westerly towards Otay Lake. Firefighters are focusing all efforts on protection of life, property, and firefighter safety. SDGE's Southwest major transmission line remains shut down."

When the wind subsides by sunset tomorrow, 10/23 this fire will lose its engine.

The official Incident 209 report (filed 1800 hrs 10/22 offers the following information;

Communities/Critical Infrastructure Threatened (next) 12 hours: Potrero, Barrett Junction, Barrett Lake area, Engineer Springs, Dulzura, Deerhorn Valley, Lawson Valley, Jamul, Lyons Valley area and Otay Mountain.

Size/Area
Involved
22,000 ACRES

Injuries
to Date:
5 (one in coma)

Projected Final Size:
35,000

Projected incident movement/spread during next operational period (in 12, 24, 48, and 72 hour time frames):
12 hours: Fire will continue to move to the west/southwest and north given current weather conditions.

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Tijuana, Border Towns Affected By Harris Fire

 
Little has been mentioned of the fire threat to Mexico border towns like Tijuana and Tecate. Reuters as well as news services in New Zealand and Canada have taken notice.

From Reuters:

"TIJUANA, Mexico, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Raging wildfires in Southern California cloaked neighboring Mexican cities in a fog of suffocating ash on Monday, shutting schools and businesses and a major U.S.-Mexico border crossing.

The normally bustling city of Tijuana, just 20 miles (32 km) from San Diego County, where seven fires burned, virtually closed down as residents stayed indoors and those who ventured out walked around with paper masks over their mouths.

A thin gray ash covered houses and cars and blotted out the sun in the Pacific port of Rosarito and the city of Tecate, where U.S. and Mexican officials closed the busy border crossing.

"You can feel the heat of the fires from here. There's ash everywhere, it is falling like rain,"

If the Harris Fire does reach the sea as predicted it will be impossible to keep flames from Tijuana Mexico and their nearly 2 million residents.

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"Al Gore or Al Qaeda"

 
".... and I don't like either one"!

This is a quote I heard on the Big Bear scanner, by one of the air attack guys flying over Lake Arrowhead.

The pilot was commenting on the view he had overlooking the Southland and how these fires are sprouting all over.

For a moment we may want to think about that quote.

Many of these fires are obvious arson related. The Santiago Canyon Fire in Orange County is confirmed arson and before it's over I believe they will find the Slide Fire was a set as well. Overhead views of the fire origin shows al remote location upwind from the Green Valley community.
A new fire in Stevenson Ranch (Magic Fire) is a roadside set. The Devore Fire was set with an intent to see it move up and into Lytle Creek.
A fire without a lot of media attention is the Rainbow Fire taking out homes in Fallbrook.


It's obvious many of these fires are sets and sleeper cells, working with little to no smarts could work this out.

Something to consider.

As for the global warming argument, extended drought is not unknown to Southern California. The Santa Ana winds are an annual Fall event.

Take a look at the partial list of current fires here.
Read about the San Diego tragedy here.

Update; This blog was picked up by Newsweek.com

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Harris Fire Web Cam View

 
The Lyons Peak webcam offers a 360' view that shows the Harris Rife to the south and the Witch Fire to the north.

Take a look at the South view towards the Harris Fire burning on the Mexican border.

The Harris Fire is predicted to burn to Chula Vista, reference Google Maps link for an idea of the geography.

The north view from the Lyons Peak cam shows the origin of the Witch Fire that has forced the evacuation of 10's of thousands and is predicted to burn to Del Mar.

SignonSanDiego.com is the resource of choice for fire info however the site is down due to server demand. Somehow this blogger is able to log on and is offering fresh information.

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Slide Incident, Lake Arrowhead

 
The Slide Incident is burning near Green Valley in the Lake Arrowhead area. The fire started at daybreak today and has already grown to over 300 acres.
Rim Of The World .net has continuous coverage via scanner transcription.

This fire is burning in beetle bark affected stands and is being pushed by winds 20 to 50 mph.

Webcam view here.

This will be a tough one as required resources are just not available. This fire is well under the radar of local (Los Angeles and Inland Empire) media are overwhelmed.

In order of magnitude this fire ranks third in line behind the Witch Fire in San Diego County and the Buckweed Fire in Canyon Country. Watch this one!


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Update:
Rim Of The World reports;

"Lake Arrowhead - As of 10 AM, there are reports of structures on fire on Brentwood and Pinehurst in Lake Arrowhead and near Grass Valley Golf Course. At 9:45 AM, a flare up was reported in the Deer Lodge Park area sending up a large smoke plume. At 9:53 AM, a resident reported fire at the rear of residences along the 26000-block of Amador Lane in Lake Arrowhead with no firefighters nearby. Firefighters near Amador and Trinity were driven back by the fire and had to retreat to a safe zone. The fire is crossing Brentwood as of 10:03 AM. The next threat is to Sandalwood.

Evacuations have been ordered for parts of Grass Valley, Trinity Tract, Modoc, Dear Lodge, Black Oaks Drive, and Brentwood in Lake Arrowhead.

The fire is burning in the old wood chipping area along Highway 173 and spreading westward. Structure protection task forces are in the Brentwood, Sanoma, and Trinity areas of Lake Arrowhead.

Grass Valley Road is closed at Five Points. Many roads are blocked in the area due to downed power lines and tree. Downed phone lines are preventing residents from being notified of the evacuations from the automated TENS calling system."


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Witch Fire, "Possibly Worse Than The Cedar Fire"

 
"This is the worst fire this county has ever seen -- worse than the Cedar Fire [of 2003]," Sheriff Bill Kolender"

This is a dramatic statement not made without considerable thought by the County Sheriff. I read this quote at NBC San Diego;

"The situation has gotten dramatically worse overnight," said Chief Bill Metcalf, the area fire coordinator for the county. Instead of calming, winds increased overnight, pushing the fire westward with flames shooting up to 200 feet in the air, he said.The Witch Fire spread into Ramona overnight, Metcalf said. It now has two fronts: one in the San Pasqual Valley and a southern front that is threatening the Barona Indian Reservation and Lakeside, he said. In San Pasqual Valley, it has combined with a smaller fire called the Guajito Fire, which is threatening the San Diego Wild Animal Park, he said. The fire crossed Interstate 15 early Monday morning at Lake Hodges and is burning in parts of Rancho Bernardo, he said."

Image url

Local blog with images and local perspective HERE.

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October 21, 2007

Ramona Evacuation Ordered 10,000 Pack Up

 
It looks like the Witch Fire is living up to it's name. According to SignonSanDiego.com fire information blog the following order has been issued;

All residents of Ramona are under a mandatory evacuation. Authorities are notifying more than 10,000 households of the evacuation orders by using the Reverse 911 system.

Evacuees can go to Poway High School at 15500 Espola Road or Escondido High School at 1535 North Broadway.


More than 10,000 people and 3,000 homes make up Ramona.

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Witch Fire & Harris Fire Updates

 
UPDATE; Massive Evacuations, Poway, Rancho Bernardo, more...

Seventeen injuries on the two fires. Great local media coverage here;

"Cal Fire reports the number of injured in the Harris Fire has risen to 17 - that includes four firefighters and 13 civilians, said Cal Fire spokewoman Audrey Hagen.

The number of acres burned has been updated to 5,000, Hagen said."

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Buckweed Fire Burning in Canyon Country

 
This looks like the monster incident of this season's Santa Ana Wind fueled fires so far. The Buckweed Fire began in Agua Dulce, north of Santa Clarita.

The fire has already burned 10,000 acres and early reports indicate 3,800 homes are threatened.

This one has ugly written all over it. This one could burn to Interstate 5 by morning.

Streaming video of the incident via MyFoxLA.com.


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From Santa-Clarita.com

October 21st - 5:45 p.m Update
Buckweed Fire Update:
A total of 10 structures have been lost at this time due to the fire;
A total of more than 10,000 acres have burned thus far;
MANDATORY evacuations of upper Bouquet Canyon and Vasquez Canyon have been announced, as well as the San Francisquito Canyon and Copperhill areas, up to Spunky Canyon.
A total of 3,800 residences are threatened as a result of the fire and further evacuations may be announced this evening;
Animal evacuations are being coordinated by the L.A. County Sheriff and Animal Control.
Only residents are being allowed into the evacuation areas;
Both the Saugus Union School District and the Castaic School District have announced that there will be no school tomorrow, Monday, Oct. 22, 2007.
The following road closures are in affect:
Sierra Highway and David Way
Bouquet Canyon and David Way
Bouquet and Vasquez Canyon
Aqua Dulce and Sierra Highway
Sierra Highway and Vasquez Canyon
Whites Canyon and Steinway

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Riverside County, Roca Fire

 
From Riverside County Fire Department;



Supplemental



CAL FIRE and Riverside County Firefighters arrived on scene
with 5 acres heavy fuel,
40 mile hour winds. Immediate Structure threat. 415
Update 50 Acres,
fire burning on both sides of Highway 79,
rapid rate of spread.
Field PIO Captain Fernando Herrera is on scene
The fire is burning on both sides of Highway
79 and both side of Highway 371
Voluntary evacuations to the SKP Resorts.
Seasonal residents of the Outdoor Resorts Recreationa
l park are
sheltering in place, approx. 200 seasonal residents.



Aircraft was intially grounded due to extreme winds.
Aircraft is currently flying the fire with 30 mph winds.
Fire is burning in a SW direction.

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San Diego County, Witch Fire, Harris Fire

 
Both fires have consumed over 2,500 acres each.
Smoke from CDF Ramona Air Attack Base. Reports from local news coverage of the Harris Fire that four firefighters were seriously injured with one possible civilian fatality on the Harris Fire.

The significance of this image is the aircraft are grounded due to high winds.

For a preliminary list of ongoing wildfires I suggest viewing this thread on WildlandFire.com.

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Malibu Fire Named "Canyon Fire"

 
One confirmed loss of the Canyon Fire is the Malibu Castle.

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Malibu Burning, Pepperdine University Threatened

 
California's second fire season begins as Santa Ana winds are fanning 3 fires in Southern California. The fire with the most potential for property loss is in Malibu.

Pepperdine University students are sheltering in place as the fire is literally beating at the doors.

As I'm watching coverage from My13 News/ Fox L.A. I'm reminded of a term coined by another firefighter while watching overhead coverage of fire companies spread out attacking spots. Firefighters are fighting multiple micro-battles, separate fights taking place as crews pick their spot and try to make stands.

With chaos like this there is nothing more that can be done.

Currently I see numerous structures involved fanned by winds exceeding 60 mph.

More as this breaks!

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October 07, 2007

Best Australian Firefighter Blog

 
Australia Bushfire Monitor


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October 02, 2007

Killer Ameoba, Are First Responders At Risk?

 
Via TV5 News Phoenix a very sad story of a boy who died from a killer ameoba found in the warm waters of Lake Havasu.

From the article:
"According to the CDC, the amoeba called Naegleria fowleri (nuh-GLEER-ee-uh FOWL'-erh-eye) killed 23 people in the United States, from 1995 to 2004. This year health officials noticed a spike with six cases — three in Florida, two in Texas and one in Arizona. The CDC knows of only several hundred cases worldwide since its discovery in Australia in the 1960s. In Arizona, David Evans said nobody knew his son, Aaron, was infected with the amoeba until after the 14-year-old died on Sept. 17. At first, the teen seemed to be suffering from nothing more than a headache. "We didn't know," Evans said. "And here I am: I come home and I'm burying him." After doing more tests, doctors said Aaron probably picked up the amoeba a week before while swimming in the balmy shallows of Lake Havasu, a popular man-made lake on the Colorado River between Arizona and California...."

The article goes on describing the tragedy the befell the Evans family. I have a 14 year old myself and I cannot imagine how the Evans family is coping.

Are Responders, rescuers alerted to the dangers presented by this ameoba? Are municipalities advising, training, providing nose plugs etc. for water rescue. I have little doubt deep and swift water rescue teams are aware and take protective measures but what about engine companies, volunteers and responding police?

If nothing else everyone should be aware when entering warm murky waters in the course of duty.

Official CDC Definition of Naegleria Fowleri

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Australia Fire Season Begins

 
I'll post more as I can and will focus on the Southern Hemisphere, particularly Australia's notorious bushfire season.
I'm attempting to place a new video player on the side panel but there may be compatibility issues with Blogger. We'll see. Here is a direct link to the video player featuring the clip of the fire North of Sydney.

As always this is a work in progress!

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