Wednesday, October 24, 2007

San Diego area fires - day 4

The situation for my family has not changed - we are safe, slept well, we taking sustenance, minimizing our electric and water use, watching TV and listening to radio, trying to stay off the roads, and trying to entertain granddaughter Lolo. It is hazy with blue sky above, the sun is shining fairly brightly (the past few days have seen no blue sky and an orange ball in the sky obscured by the haze and ashfall) and there is no ashfall right here right now. The closest the fires got to us were about 8 miles east in the Eastlake area of Chula Vista.

The TV here has been "all fire, all the time" so we have had no national TV news or regular shows on the local stations. I watched Fox News Channel last night for a bit and the anchor confidently said "Chula Vista has been evacuated." Wrong-o! About 1% of Chula Vista residents were evacuated. I've heard that NBC and CBS have news anchors here - I hope they got it right. The local TV folks don't get it right sometimes either - I saw one report last night that said the winds were out of the northeast so the fires were burning in the northwest direction. Neither the anchors or the reporter could figure it out.

The fire situation in the county has changed. The Sign On San Diego Wildfires 2007 blog has the latest announcements, and is my best source for news. The major fires and their status as of 7 AM are now:

** Witch Fire: About 196,420 acres in northern San Diego County from Witch Creek east of Ramona to Rancho Santa Fe. It has burned up into Valley Center and down around El Capitan Reservoir. One percent contained; 500 homes, 100 businesses and 50 outbuildings destroyed; 375 other structures damaged, including 250 homes and 75 businesses. Two civilians and 12 firefighters injured.

** Harris Fire: About 72,000 acres - started 70 miles southeast of San Diego north of the border town of Tecate, and ranged west and northwest to Jamul, over Mount San Miguel to the southeastern edge of Sweetwater Lake and the northeastern edge of Chula Vista. 10 percent contained; 200 homes destroyed; 2,000 homes and 500 commercial properties threatened. One civilian killed, 21 civilians and five firefighters injured.

** Rice Fire: At least 7,500 acres in Fallbrook in northern San Diego County. 10 percent containment; 206 homes and 2 commercial properties destroyed. One firefighter injured.

** Poomacha Fire: 20,000 acres on the La Jolla Indian Reservation and in northeastern San Diego County. This fire is straddling State 76 east of I-15, and is climbing up Palomar Mountain, which has lush vegetation since it hasn't burned for many years. No containment; 50 homes destroyed and 2,000 homes threatened. Ten firefighters injured.

** Camp Pendleton Fire: 6,000 acres on the Marine base north of San Diego. 10 percent contained. This fire has closed I-5 through the base, and caused the shutdown of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant.

** McCoy Fire started on the west side of Cuyamaca Mountain, and burned eastward yesterday, and the mountain town of Julian was evacuated, but the fire did not get into the town.

The Santa Ana winds have reduced strength and may be over by this afternoon. The problem with that is there will likely be light winds off the ocean from the west and the eastern fronts of each fire may burn eastward into areas not previously burned. This is especially true for Fairbanks Ranch east of Rancho Santa Fe, and for Jamul east of Mount San Miguel.

To put it all in some kind of perspective: About 500,000 people were evacuated out of danger. The evacuation zones are larger than the burn areas. That's about 1 person in every 6 in the County. About 50,000 of them are in shelters somewhere, the rest are with family, friends, a campground or a hotel. About 1,300 homes have been lost so far, that's less than 1% of the homes in the affected areas. Some neighborhoods, especially in Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Santa Fe, Del Dios, Poway and along State 94 were hard hit - in some case, whole streets and blocks were lost. Almost all of the homes burned are on streets facing canyons or forest.

Thank you for all of the emails inquiring about our health and safety. We still have Lolo who came down on Saturday for a two night visit with her friend - we'll probably take her home on Thursday if I-15 is open.

2 comments:

Terry Thornton said...

Randy,

Thanks for the updates. Glad you and yours are safe and secure.

And thanks for The Chula Vista Address. I will never heard the original again without thinking of your pledge!

Terry Thornton
Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi

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