San Diego Fires: Noon Press Conference Live Blog

October 23, 2007 @ 12:52 pm | Filed under:

UPDATED 3:25 pm: Here is the link to Councilman Maienschein’s website for District 5. The list of homes destroyed in Rancho Bernardo is now up.

Note to Lilting House regulars: Rancho Bernardo is not near my house—I am 25 miles south. This link is to aid people searching for the list of destroyed homes promised in the news briefing below.


(Please excuse typos. Am typing fast to catch this. Will try to correct names of speakers later.)

County Supervisor Ron Roberts speaking.
officers helping, many volunteers at shelters
not planned to be shelters
doing a super job
people providing food, cots, surgical masks (one company offered 30,000)
breathing these fumes is extremely unhealthy
good news today: four firefighting helicopters have arrived to help

our 211 line, we have more than tripled capacity
trying to get 175 lines in operation
waits will decrease
anyone needing info try 211 line
info on road closures, access at 511
211 talk to someone, get specific info

minimize cell phone use
mimimize driving
concerns about closing major freeways again b/c threat of fire,
so please minimize use, avoid commutes

finally, electrical capacity limited, please do everything possible to conserve electricity
we want you to use your air conditioners, want you to have clean air, but please conserve,
esp during peak hours

Now Mayor Jerry Sanders speaking.

we will be allowing residents to move back into 2 areas: Del Mar Heights south of Via de la Valle,
west of 5, north of Torrey Pines State Beach

Scripps Ranch residents can move back in.
area south of beeler canyon rd, west of sycamore canyon rd, east of 15, north of mcas miramar

no structure damage in those two areas
area safe for citizens, traffic systems restored.

Secondly, in the Rancho Bernardo area, Council Member Maienshein has walked that area w/ fire and police.
He will be releasing a list of homes destroyed. Info will be on his website.
City & county will establish an assistance center in Rancho Bernardo as soon as citizens allowed back in.

Now San Diego fire chief speaking.

Still extreme conditions. 2 new independent fires near Camp Pendleton.
Rice fire hasn’t changed much since last update. 4000 acres. Have lost no structures.
Putting resources on it as fast as we can.
Issue we’ve had is that Fallbrook evac order is still in effect. Do not come in. Some people have tried to come back.

Tracy Jarman speaking about Witch Creek Fire.

All areas experiencing extreme burning conditions as we speak.

Another fire chief speaking about Poomacha Fire.
Fire on La Jolla Indian res is 3000 acres on Palomar Mountain.
We are managing it until a team is in place later this evening.
Doing our best to protect structures, in particular in La Jolla Reservation canyon area.
Fires are pulling toward each other, will likely join by end of day. When that happens we will see extreme conditions.
Working to get all citizens out.

Now another fire chief speaks.

Next 24 hrs very critical.
New fire starting as we stand here.
Just because allowing 2 sections to be re-entered, does not mean likelihood of any additional repopulation.

Another fire chief. Steve ?

Harris Fire. 70,000 acres. Cal Fire, CIty of Chula Vista, City of SD fire
Chula Vista, north to Jamul–our focus
winds are light enough to get helicopters up
last night in Deerhorn Valley, some structural losses, assessing damage now.
Successes: San Miguel peak last night, critical emergency communications structures are intact.
11 major fires in SoCal. About 8 have significant structural damage issues now. Trying to divide resources.

Air support: 20 helicopters, combined from state & federal agencies.
Yesterday ordered 6 C-130s, mobile system air firefighting unit. Arrive late today or by Thursday.
40 helis federal, park service, city, county.
6 federal military helis. 4 Blackhawks, 2 Seahawks.

Ron Lane, Director office of emergency services speaking.

Have evac’d over 500,000 residents. During Cedar fire, only evac’d 50,000–gives idea of magnitude.
OVer 23 shelters in place.
Ask evac’d residents to be patient, getting supplies there as fast as we can.
Sheer quickness of need to move shelters, challenging task, but getting ahead of the game now.

Evac with as much water & food as you can, 3 day supply if possible.
Energy a big issue right now. All citizens minimize use of electrical power.

3:17a.m. Presidential emergency declared.
1 death.
22 civ injuries, 21 firefighter injuries.
estimated 1250 homes destroyed,  530 homes damaged, 100 commercial
bldgs destroyed, 75 comm bldgs damaged, 51 other structures destroyed,
241,000 acres burned at this point

2 hospitals evac’d. Additional hospitals may be threatened, also assisted living facilities, we are monitoring this.

Residents worried they’ve lost homes, what is next step?
Director of Public Works dept will be at next briefing to address this.
Working w/ state & FEMA to address this.
Needed Pres. disaster declaration to get funds for individuals.

Now back to Chairman Ron Roberts.

Good news: release that Poway residents can go back in following areas:

South of Twin Peaks Rd, East of Community Road to Tierra Bonita Rd on the north
and Donard Drive to the South.

West of Ipava Drive, west & north of Poway Drive. Don’t know how
many people that area contains but we are advised that before you
return to your homes, if you live in those areas, please call Poway
Sheriff’s office at 858 513 2800.

Pam Stewart speaking.

Thanks Cal Fire for dedication, working 24 hrs, resources, with the situation north in Malibu so much to attend to.
People need to know: these evac centers are run by various organizations, run differently.

211 line needs volunteers, 4 hr time slots.
Will be visiting shelters to assess need.
Need cots, beds, sleeping bags,
face masks, inhalers, bandages, wheelchairs, medical supplies.
If you evac, bring med supplies with you if possible.

Mira Mesa shelter, shortage of bathrooms, donations would helps.
We thank Red Cross for food delivery.
Thanks for immediate response getting health & safety team to Del Mar.

Everyone has said how much more coordinated this effort is than four years ago. More to do, but we have made great strides. 

Councilman Brain Maienschein
Scripps Ranch can return–difficult b/c only one entrance & exit, I appreciate your patience.   Click to District 5, Brian Maienschein, to see list of
destroyed homes. Not prepared by fire professionals but hopes will help.
Damage is significant. I counted 75 destroyed homes in Rancho Bernardo.
Still leaking gas lines in Rancho Bernardo, please do not go. Not a safe situation.
As soon as safe, fire & police will allow return.
Most damage: communities of Westwood, Mont Elena, The Trails, and Greens East.
For most part other neighborhoods in good shape.
Have given this list to police & fire to expedite cleanup and rebuild.
When RB is reopened, we’ll make available a one-stop shop to help you reclaim your lives asap.
My staff, many of whom have homes threatened themselves, gave time to walk this area, I thank them.
Info will be on website after 2pm.

SDGE update on power issues (SDGE official speaking):

Tight day in power grid. Ask every single customer to conserve.
Transmission emergency declared.
Many lines down.
Our ability to import power into San Diego is reduced to 40% of normal.
Please conserve.
Every generator in county is working.
As customers return to home, PLEASE be careful, don’t touch downed lines.
If you smell gas, call 800-411-SDGE

Fire chief returns (the one who talked about La Jolla Indian Reservation).
Pumaca fire has grown to 20,000 acres
Palomar mountain.
Reverse 911 is working to notify residents.
This fire is converging w/ Witch fire.

Ron Roberts returns to wrap up.
Half hour ago we were talking about 3000 acres (Poomacha), now 20,000! Changing fast.

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