Tuesday, October 23, 2007

San Diego Fires: Press Conference Update

Harris Fire:
72,000 acres ablaze
Estimate 1500 homes threatened previously or over the next 24 hours
Many civilian injuries 22 injures, 1 fatality
Firefighters made a rescue attempt and received critical injuries
Burning on two fronts- West side was nearing Chula Vista, North and East Front.
Fire shifted because of the westerly winds, though dangerous because of unpredictability
Firefight in Dearhorn, estimate up to 50 homes burned
Citizens didn't evacuate when told and were forced to seek shelter at the firehouse
65 engines, less than a dozen bulldozers
Firefighters have worked endless shifts, missing meals and sleep
Spring Valley was successfully protected
Steele Canyon High is protected
Dulzura community had devastating losses
San Diego, Chula Vista are looking good
Indian Springs has 100 homes threatened
Tijuana Fire Chief will bring 34 personnel tonight to aid the fight
Air assets were used and were of great help, including the DC 10

Witch Fire
Minimal progress in the west fire moved north and east
Damage assessment teams 480 structures lost, many more damaged
Very active burning
Acreage holding at just below 200,000 acres
Lots of windshifts pushed the fire into Del Dios with about 100 structures damaged
Fire moved north and west along the 76
Cumacho fire is at 23000 acres affecting Valley Center
Fires will probably meet tonight

Rice Fire
Slowed down due to offshore winds
Santa Margarita drainage has stopped forward progression
650 personnel on the fire 20+ engines

Unincorporated Areas:
Looting is being watched by deputy sheriffs and national guardsmen
Bonnie Dumanis is committed to prosecuting to the fullest extent of the law, punishable by up to three years in prison
3 assistance centers will be set up to assist residents at Cuyamaca College, Ramona Community School, or Fallbrook Community Center
More homes are being saved than lost

All sections in Chula Vista and Bonita/Sunnyside are open and people can return home
No structural losses in those areas
Chula Vista High had up to 500 evacuees but is now down to about 125
Livestock can be taken to Bonita Sunnyside Saddle Club. Call 619-203-1640
2-1-1 is a resource for donation information, social service information, and shelter information. Wait time is down to 5 minutes. Went from 800 calls a day to over 45,000

County Schools
All 42 districts in San Diego elected to close all schools through the end of the week. Situation will be reassessed for next week, primarily concerned with environmental cleanup. Lost funding will be reimbursed as well as lost property. Mountain Empire lost two classrooms and an out building

"We do believe the worst is behind us." Weather is mildly cooperating.
6 deaths- one was direct, two of natural causes, two after evacuations, one in a hotel after evacuation.
SDG&E was able to avoid major outages. Usage should still be conserved. 1600 customers are experiencing gas outages.
Julian has telephone outages, so the emergency alert system was used. Julian will most likely be evacuated tonight to the east.

Safe cleanup of fire ash checklist will be available on media websites.

Recovery Efforts:
already underway
Damage assessments and will be posted on County Website
Air quality monitoring stations have been added
Local Assistance Centers will be in Fallbrook, Ramona, Rancho San Diego, and Rancho Bernardo.
Erosion control assessments will be done
Waiving building permit costs
Small water systems are being monitored
Rats and mosquitoes will be monitored

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