Wildfires Continue To Burn In San Diego County
UPDATE: 12:12 p.m., Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Two wildfires that started in the East County over the weekend are still active. But so far, there have been no evacuations, loss of life or property.
Fire Captain Frank LoCoco from Cal Fire San Diego describes the current wildfire situation.
“We’re very optimistic for both fires. We’re making great progress. We’ll still be out at the Overland probably for a few more days and the Clevenger for the day and possibly the evening,” LoCoco said.
The Overland Fire started east of Mount Laguna in Canebrake, in temperatures around 114 degrees. It is 50% contained and has burned 515 acres.
“That specific fire was extremely difficult to access via the ground." LoCoco continued, “We did have to insert a lot of our ground forces via helicopter, or via a pickup truck ride and a hike into it. It’s very very remote, very rugged and it was extremely warm.”
The San Pasqual area was also dealing with the Clevenger Fire that burned 53 acres and is now 100% contained.
“Extremely steep terrain. We were able to attack it aggressively with both air and ground resources and really keep it in check before it grew too large,” LoCoco noted.
Monitoring wildfires is a collective effort.
And the community plays an important role too.
“We get inundated with 911 calls with folks throughout the County who either see or smell smoke and call to start that dispatch system,” LoCoco said.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department supplied Cal Fire with their ASTREA helicopter and made water drops to control the Overland Fire.
Technology also plays a major role in combating wildfires.
“We also have an excellent series of cameras throughout the county and you can actually access those through alertwildfire.org and that allows us to try to get eyes on the fire even before some of our ground resources get there,” LoCoco said.
The National Weather Service provides direct support through current and predicted weather conditions of an exact location.
Alex Tardy is the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service San Diego. They also use a satellite to detect hot spots and it updates every five minutes.
“They can detect wildfires basically,” Tardy said. “They can detect hot areas anywhere 24/7, night time, day time and they can detect them as small as 3-5 acres in size.”
At least one of the weekend’s fires was detected early by the satellite.
Tardy said wildfires could have been a lot worse this weekend.
“When we talk about temperatures that hot in the backcountry, where all that fuel in vegetation is, if there is a start it’s going to burn rapidly. We’re lucky we had minimal wind otherwise we’d be talking about fires five times as large.”
Potential for wildfires will remain high for this season due to the high temperatures, drought and extremely dry brush.