Valley Fire Chars Thousands of Acres, Destroys Homes In Eastern San Diego County
Speaker 1: 00:00 With more than two dozen wildfires currently burning around California with eight fatalities and more than 3000 buildings burned. Governor Newsome held a news conference this morning. Speaker 2: 00:10 This is historic. This is the largest, uh, fire season we've had in terms of total acreage impacted, uh, in some time back recorded recent modern history. But nonetheless, uh, you put it in comparison terms contrast to last year. Uh, it's rather extraordinary. Uh, the challenge that we faced again so far, this season 2020, Speaker 1: 00:34 More than 2 million acres of burns so far this year, and tens of thousands of Californians remain under evacuation orders. People were emergency airlifted out of mammoth lakes area over the weekend. And the governor said 164 people were emergency evacuated this morning, alone, 14,000 firefighters are working the lines and use some said, though, they have improved containment on some of the fires with high winds in the forecast, wildfires still pose a major threat. He said too many of them are manmade, Speaker 2: 01:02 Uh, because it's a reminder that the vast majority of fires that we experience on an annual basis, uh, come from individuals, making bad decisions or, uh, by simple neglect and accident, meaning 90 plus 90 plus percent of the fires that we experienced in the state of California annual basis are manmade fires. Speaker 1: 01:26 Temperatures of 121 degrees were recorded in the state over the weekend, putting historic pressure on the energy grid. The governor said peak energy Rose from an average of 38,000 to 47,000 megawatts. He said anything about 45,000 puts a stress on California's grid. And the power saved by consumers. Conserving was appreciated. Use some said extreme events are becoming almost normalized in California. And he has little patience for people who still deny climate change is a reality Speaker 2: 01:55 And firefighters battling the Valley fire. Since Saturday, I got a break overnight, Dawn broke today with fog and much cooler temperatures, even a bit of drizzle. Unfortunately, those conditions aren't going to last with Santa Ana winds expected in the East County tonight, San Diego County supervisor, Diane Jacobs spoke at a press conference about the Valley fire this afternoon. Speaker 1: 02:16 We've been here before and I just hope and pray that we don't see something like we saw in 1970 in 2003 and in 2007, but it's clear the potential is out there for a very dangerous situation. Speaker 2: 02:34 Joining me live from the base camp at VA Haas casino. With the latest on the fire is Cal fire. Captain Thomas chutes, who, uh, is, uh, is, uh, been working this fire for the last four days since Saturday, captain chutes. Thanks for joining us. Thanks for having me. And we're exactly, uh, give us the, the status of the Valley fire right now. What's happening, the containment, the buildings lost that 3% still. Speaker 3: 03:00 Uh, we have 11 residents destroyed and numerous additional outbuildings. So those are going to be your sheds and, and, uh, the, the other, um, uh, the other types of structures like that. Um, the containment we've been working hard overnight and into the morning, really trying to take advantage of this weather, building that containment line. Cause, uh, at 3%, that means even with this weather, we still have 97% of the fire that doesn't have, um, actual line around it. So we got to build up that perimeter to, uh, to really try and help us for these East winds that have the potential to, to push these embers past the line and, and send it off to the races again. Speaker 2: 03:36 And how many acres have been burned in this fire and where are we talking about specifically? So people have it in their minds. Speaker 3: 03:42 Yeah, so it's just over 17,000 acres and this isn't the half a tool area, but I think the easiest way for folks to picture is, is South of Alpine. So South here off of the eight, um, and, uh, it's, it's a very rural area, but, um, ton of structures out here, a lot of, a lot of folks who live out here who are affected right now who have been evacuated and, uh, and, and with the road closures, can't, can't get in and out of their place. So we're hoping that things started looking better, but, uh, we really have to get past these couple of days of, of Santa Ana winds to, to, uh, to really start to feel a little bit more optimistic. Speaker 2: 04:20 Has anyone been injured in this fire so far? Speaker 3: 04:22 Yeah, there, there had been two injuries here and, uh, nothing, nothing, uh, uh, life critical, fortunately, but, um, you know, the terrain out here, Raymond rugged, um, the, uh, hot, dry temperatures that we've been experiencing today was a nice break from that. But this is, uh, this has not been the norm. And what has been predicted is that the wind's gonna push all this nice green they're out and re breakthrough. And then we have the potential for things to really warm back up for those relatives he needs to drop. And for it to be a, a bit more challenging on here Speaker 2: 04:57 And of those rather minor injuries as you're describing them, firefighters or residents, Speaker 3: 05:03 Uh, you can read the information. I do believe they were firefighters, but, um, I don't have, uh, I don't have the specifics on that. Speaker 2: 05:10 Okay. So we've had about 1,420 people evacuated according to the press conference. We heard her a while ago. Uh, how was the COVID-19 pandemic being dealt with for those who are evacuated? Speaker 3: 05:22 So we work closely with our red cross partners, and I should say where we're in unified command with the us forest service there, they're wonderful partners out here in San Diego. Um, and, uh, we're, we're working alongside red cross who that their, uh, their bread and butter is really getting them shelter set up, really helping us with the evacuation portion. So, uh, once law enforcement carries out the evacuations and I should mention Jenny, our sheriff also a huge partner in this. Um, we, we get these people to, uh, temporary evacuation points, um, as needed. So some folks may have places to go. They may have family members that they can, they can go and stay with with the COVID situation. Um, there's a lot of folks who they may have planned on going, staying with their parents or grandparents, and that's not an option anymore. So red cross sets up these shelters, but a very different structure from in the past a, B, C w you know, in the past, we've seen these shelters with hundreds of folks in, um, people staying overnight. Um, that's no longer the case. The goal is to get people in, get them the help they need and move them back out. And so, um, really where we're trying to, we're trying to not keep people congregated and it's created a different system, but, but one, that's still very helpful Speaker 2: 06:30 With this red flag warning, the Santa Anne's kicking up. Uh, what are you bracing for with all that? Speaker 3: 06:35 You know, the, the West side of the fire, um, has been looking pretty good these last couple of days. And, and unfortunately with these wind, we have the potential to see the fire kick up into areas that have otherwise been pretty good. Um, you picture the, the potential, just a regular, you know, anywhere in the County, we can have a start today and have it really become an issue for us. Um, but you look at all the hot embers that are still, um, within part of this fire. Um, any one of those numbers jumping the line and, and we could have a real problem on our hands. And so that's our, that's our biggest concern right now. We have crews all over this fire because there's no part of the fire. That's, that's going to be a unit. Uh, if we have 40 mile an hour plus winds coming through, Speaker 2: 07:16 And we heard at the press conference here just before the new Knauer, that resources are limited because of the 25 fires burning across California. Here's a, here's a bite from United incident commander, Mike Klemow from a bigger picture perspective. We are all strapped and we will protect everything that we can with the resources that we have. And how many firefighters battling this fire? How many aircraft being used in this fire? Speaker 3: 07:43 Yeah, so, so, uh, for this one, we, uh, we have, we have helicopters fixed wing, and we always have that on, on, uh, on our fires, but we're able to call in a bunch more. I believe that the total today was, was 10 helicopters. Um, we have our, our, uh, the planes that drop retardant that includes the, um, the, to meet staff locally. Um, in addition to that, we have larger tankers and very large air tankers, which can come in and, and drop out a drop considerable amount of retardant. The very large air tankers are the, the DC 10 style, uh, one, um, personnel, 593 personnel assigned out on the line today. So, um, I a huge number of resources, but, um, you know, like, like he mentioned, it's, uh, it's a challenge. It's a challenge. Anytime you, you have a bunch of fires burning, you're going to have to kind of triage. You're going to have to, um, determine where the resources will work fast. And so we we've been fortunate down here, but if we do have a conditions worse in it, it will be challenging to get additional resources down here to help us. And, uh, we are, we are very grateful for our military partners. They've assisted with aircraft. Um, that's been on the fire the last two days as well. Speaker 2: 08:49 The specific areas have a evacuation orders and warnings now, and you expect that'll change with the winds and how they are. Huh? Speaker 3: 08:56 Yeah. And today the evacuation orders remained the same. So the bear like damn area, quarter Madeira ranch, coral Canyon, Los Pinos have a tool in lions, Carl Baker. Um, but the stuff that popped up yesterday, the quarter Madeira ranch, um, you know, that area's just so big. And, and, uh, we wanted to make sure that, um, we, we got people out of harm's way. Um, in addition to that, there's, there's a ton of preplanning going on to, uh, make sure that we've identified any potential future evacuation orders. So, um, you know, that involves running models and figuring out, okay, if this fire, um, does blow out what were potential communities affecting it, and how quickly can we get those evacuation warnings in orders out? So a lot, a lot of pre-planning just in case, but we're really hoping everything stays through the next couple of days. And again, we can continue to work on the containment situation. Speaker 2: 09:45 Well, it's going to be quite a battle out there and those wins. We're all praying that it doesn't get too bad overnight. I've been speaking with Cal fire, captain Thomas chutes. Thanks very much for joining us. Speaker 3: 09:56 Thank you. And thank you for the support.