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Firefighters slowly containing Border 32 fire

 September 2, 2022 at 12:44 PM PDT

S1: An update on the East County border. Wildfire containment.

S2: 20% as of this morning. Crews continued making good work overnight. Still very gusty conditions out here.

S1: I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH. This is KPBS Midday Edition. A report on one major piece of legislation that was not approved by California lawmakers.

S3: Our immigration system is broken. It needs to be fixed. I can't do that at my level.

S1: The musical Ragtime and Wynton Marsalis top the events on our weekend preview. That's ahead on Midday Edition. Firefighters are slowly getting the upper hand on a wildfire that began Wednesday in San Diego's East County near the town of Potrero. The border 32 fire has destroyed about 4400 acres as it jumped state Route 94 and burned south toward the Tarcutta area. Two people have been badly burned by the wildfire. It's destroyed several structures , including three homes. Hundreds of firefighters continue battling the blaze and triple digit temperatures today. Fire officials warn the threat of wildfire remains high as long as the heat wave continues. Joining me is Cal Fire Captain Thomas Schuetz. He's at the incident command post just east of Hoffman Casino. And Captain Schultz , welcome.

S2: Thanks for having me.


S2: We're hoping to turn the corner on this fire. 20% as of this morning. Crews continued making good work overnight. Still very gusty conditions out here. And so that's always a concern for us along with the dry heat and the temperatures. But we're making a lot of progress. It's just a lot of open line. You can imagine a footprint that's over 4000 acres. There's a lot of line that we have to cut around it , a lot of cooling down hot spots and really making sure this fire is out before we walk away from it.


S2: There were there were two additional ones yesterday. All three were heat related. And fortunately , all three were minor injuries. What we're doing to combat that is is really try and get our crews to the fire line quicker. It was a long hike into the rural part of very rugged terrain. So some folks were hiking hours before they even got to the fire line. As of today , we're actually flying them up with helicopters to get them to the line , get them to work quicker , and really just trying to take care of our crews , keep an eye on everybody and make sure we don't have any more injuries.

S1: What have the conditions been like for the firefighters ? You mentioned they were exhausted by the time they got there if they had to march to the area of the fire.

S2: Yeah , we knew that we were coming into this long duration heat wave , and that's always a challenge for us. It's what we trained for. We trained in the heat. We know that these are conditions. We have our crews out hiking every day. But but these are these long heat waves where it doesn't really let up overnight. It doesn't really give our bodies time to recover. We're putting it all out on the line. We're doing the best we can to try to get folks back in their homes. And and sometimes sometimes it starts to take a toll on our body. So we're doing everything to take care of our firefighters. But it's tough terrain. It's a lot of steep hills , a lot of hiking and just a lot of difficult work out there. But our folks are doing good. Everybody's staying safe for the most part , and and continuing to chip away.


S2: We have a lot of folks who came off the line today. They're going to get rested up. We have a 24 hour cycle is usually how we do it and so keeps folks fresh. They work for 20 hours , give it all they got and then we give them some rest and give them a day off. So still a lot of folks out here , a lot of aircraft still out here putting out the hot spots. But overall , it doesn't really look like there's a fire in the area. There's smoke lingering , but no real swaths taking off , no real active growth overnight. And that's always a positive for us. We can focus on building that containment line.

S1: I know people in the area were evacuated.

S2: We were grateful to get some folks back into their homes on the Potrero side and also on the west side outside of the actual fire footprint. Right now , the folks who are evacuated are really in the main fire area. And we need to make sure that everything's totally good to go before we let them in. It doesn't mean that we need to be at 100% containment , though. Ongoing talks this morning about trying to open up even more evacuations. We expect that that's going to happen later today. We don't have any details yet , but things are looking really positive. They're moving in a good direction. With the limited fire growth and the excess of resources on the scene , we feel really good about potentially lifting some of the road closures and getting folks back in their homes.


S2: We're really lucky here in San Diego County to have a lot of resources at the ready for these initial attack fires , to really throw everything we got at it right off the bat and try to keep these fires small. And we have fire engines , bulldozers , hand crews. Of course , our aircraft are incredibly helpful , both the fixed wing and the rotor wing. And we have resources coming from all over the state. We had strike teams coming in from Fresno and San Luis Obispo and a ton of help from our collaborators , Forest Service , all of our local government partners here in San Diego , and then , of course , our law enforcement partners. We couldn't do it without them. And especially the the most dicey time is the evacuation. And. They really shine in that part. We work together to get folks out of their homes and it's really just a huge team effort out here. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. I want to ask you about that. I heard that fire officials have made pleas to the public that if they are told to evacuate because of wildfire , they need to go.

S2: You look at this time of year and we have fuel conditions where our brush has gotten below the critical fuel moisture. That means when it does catch on fire , the fire behavior has the potential to be explosive. This time of year , these next few months are going to get very challenging for us any time we have a new start. Immediately upon dispatch of this fire , we were getting 911 calls of people in their homes surrounded by fire. I'm certainly not something that we want. We don't want that situation for anybody , obviously. But it also takes away from the fire fight. We have to turn our efforts towards life safety. That's obviously the number one. And so instead of engaging on the fire , we're trying to get people out of harm's way so that we don't have a choice. Right. The fire starts right by their homes and they didn't have a chance to evacuate. But the people who choose to stay are really creating a hazardous situation for everybody and not allowing us to engage in the firefight because we're trying to keep them safe.

S1: You talked about the rough terrain and the really miserable conditions that the firefighters are working in. How long do you think it will take to fully contain and control the border ? 32 fire.

S2: I'd say minimum will be out here for several more days. Just a many miles of of building a containment line , which is basically like building a hiking trail. And when you're cutting , grass goes a little bit faster. But when you're working through a brush , it does take some time. You have chainsaws and hand tools working their way through. And then we have hose lines coming through to to cool everything down to reinforce that line. Chipping away , even with hundreds of firefighters takes a very long time. Our biggest our biggest push is to get folks back in their homes and we can continue our work around them as long as it's a safe environment for them. So we're doing everything we can to to make it tenable enough to get folks back in. And then we're going to continue working. But we will we will be out here for several more days.

S1: I've been speaking with Cal Fire Captain Thomas Schuetz , and thank you so much for the information. Absolutely.

S2: Absolutely. Thank you.

S1: The last days of California's two year legislative session ended with a flurry of votes this week. One of the bills that did not make it would have ended the practice of transferring noncitizens to immigration custody when they're released from jail or prison. KQED immigration editor Tyche Hendricks has that story.

S4: San Francisco State Senator Scott Wiener led the recent push for the Vision Act. He told his colleagues that the state prison system , known by its initials CDCR , is not required by California law to turn immigrants over for deportation after they've served their sentence or been released on parole.

S2: We've been asking the administration , CCR , for years to stop doing this , and they won't. So it's time for the legislature to act.

S4: He invoked the case of a Cambodian refugee who came to the U.S. at age four and was paroled from San Quentin after a full rehabilitation , only to be deported last month. But law enforcement groups opposed the bill. And Senator Susan Eggman of Stockton , a fellow Democrat who's from an immigrant family , was not convinced.

S3: Our immigration system is broken. It needs to be fixed. I can't do that at my level. I also want to say that I am a social worker. I believe in redemption.

S4: But Egmond says she fears some people released from prison will commit crimes again. She voted for an earlier bill to limit police cooperation with immigration authorities.

S3: But on this bill , I cannot support it. I supported the Values Act and I asked for this bill to be narrowed so I could feel better about it because at the end of the day , the job I do have is to ensure my community is safe and to do everything I can to ensure the safety of my constituents.

S4: Weiner pushed back , pointing to data that shows immigrants actually commit fewer crimes than U.S. born citizens.

S2: And so this whole stereotype that the immigration debate is about crime that is just , with all respect , not true.

S4: And he slammed the prison system for choosing to work with federal agents.

S2: DCR is flipping us the bird , with all due respect , by saying we don't care what sentences you , the policymakers , have said , we're going to add on punishment just for the heck of it and get these people deported after they've done their sentence. It's outrageous.

S4: Last year , the State Assembly resoundingly approved the bill , but when the votes were counted in the Senate , Eggman voted no. Nine other Democrats abstained , and the Vision Act came up three votes short. Immigrant advocates vowed to keep fighting to end prison to immigration transfers. I'm Tyche Hendricks.

S1: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH. For our Weekend Arts Preview , there's contemporary ballet theatre , a chance to spend some time with a single work of art and a legendary jazz group coming to town. Joining me with all the details is KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans. And , Julia , welcome.

S5: Hi , Maureen. Thanks for having me.

S1: So the musical Ragtime is on stage at Moonlight Amphitheatre through Saturday. Tell us about this production. Yeah.

S5: Yeah. This musical was written in the nineties and it's based on the 1975 novel by E.L. Doctorow , and it follows three different groups by way of following three distinct individuals. And all of them live very different lives. This is all set in early 20th century America. There's Coalhouse Walker Jr. Who's a black piano player in Harlem. He's played by Charl Brown. There's Mother , who is an upper class housewife that's in Westchester , New York , and she's played by Betsy Malone and then Tatar , who's a Jewish immigrant. That's Gino Carr , who was part of the original Broadway cast of Come From okay. And so we follow along as their lives kind of weave together and we watch the different types of oppression that each of them face. And the soundtrack , of course , is a huge part of this , with music across styles for each of the characters. There's Rag Came and jazz tinged songs , as well as klezmer and contemporary styles as well. I.

UU: I. From my.

S5: And this is an outdoor production at Moonlight in Vista and this is closing weekend. So your last chance associate are tonight and Saturday night. The gates to the amphitheater open at 630 and curtain is at eight.

S1: And one more theater production. Tell us about Fandango for butterflies and coyotes at the La Hoya Playhouse.

S5: Write Fandango for butterflies and coyotes. This is a joint production from the Playhouse and En Garde Arts , which is a New York company. This is a new play written by Andrea Tomé with music from Cynthia Padilla. And the story revolves around a lot of music and dance again. There's a fandango from the title. That's a type of gathering and celebration with storytelling , music and dance. This gathering is common to Latin American immigrant communities , and in the play , this particular fandango is on the eve of an ice raid on the entire city. So this play is on stage through September 25th , and you can catch it this weekend at 8:00 tonight and Saturday and then at 7:00 on Sunday.


S5: And this weekend is the finale for their current season. This one's their debuts productions and it'll be held in the mingus's really lovely new theater space. And it's a set of four brand new works of contemporary ballet , which has actually become one of my favorite types of dance. It's a blend of classical ballet and modern dance , and it tends to be really expressive. There's a lot of room for nontraditional and kind of freer movements. And of these four debuts , two of them are from the Roslyn Box choreographers and two are from guest choreographers. I've seen a few clips of these and they look absolutely incredible. The piece from Rosenbach says Jeremy's a painter is scored by San Diego based composer and experimental musician Zane Alexander. And there are three life shows left tonight through Sunday at 730 , but they're also doing a virtual stream that's at 7:00 on Saturday.

S1: Now , a way to commune with some visual art. Tell us about what's on this weekend. Okay.

S5: Okay. And I'm sort of warning you in advance , starting next week , I'm probably going to be inundating you with a lot of visual art. There's a ton opening up throughout September. There's design week later in the month. There is going to be a new Alexis Smith exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Art , San Diego. There's the Senegal Art Prize that's going to be at the downtown library. There's so much coming up. That's all later this month. And it kind of makes this weekend the calm before the storm. The bread and sock complex right now is mostly closed down in between exhibitions , but quint one is open. That's the space that is a satellite of Quint Gallery in La Hoya and they show a single notable work of art at a time so that you can spend some time with it. And right now , they have luminous emergence. That's from Mayling martinez. It's a new installation work with a projector screen that's hung in the space , and it's dotted with this cluster of illustrations. There's somewhere between petroglyphs and and borrowed and illustrations from medical textbooks or survival manuals or how to books. There are complicated knots alongside some really strange , fantastical organs or muscles or veins. It's really easy to get lost in the details on this one. And the gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 to 4.

S1: Finally , the Shell will host Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra this weekend.

S5: And Wynton Marsalis has been directing since 1991. And they're a pretty busy group. They tour a lot. They play in schools. They have a string of albums , including a Pulitzer Prize for Marsalis Blood on the Fields. And they , of course , also perform regularly at the Lincoln Center. And the orchestra plays a pretty broad range of jazz works. There's plenty of classics , but also new stuff from orchestra members or other contemporary jazz composers. And they've also done an album of Sesame Street music. And we're listening right now to their rendition of Delaney's Dilemma from jazz composer John Lewis. The show is Sunday night at the show , and there's a special pre-show treat. There's a set from the super talented Young Lions Jazz Conservatory. So get there by 615 if you want to hear that.

S1: For details on these and many more upcoming arts events or to sign on for Julia's weekly KPBS Arts newsletter , go to KPBS Dawgs Arts. I've been speaking with KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans. Julia , thank you.

S5: Thank you , Maureen. Have a good weekend.

The wildfire that began Wednesday in San Diego’s East County near the town of Potrero has charred about 4,400 acres, jumped state route 94 and burned south toward the Tecate area. It destroyed several structures including three homes and two people have been badly burned. In other news, the last days of California’s two-year legislative session ended with a flurry of votes this week. One of the bills that did not make it would have ended the practice of transferring non-citizens to immigration custody when they’re released from jail or prison. And finally in our weekend preview, the musical, “Ragtime,” "Fandango for Butterflies and Coyotes" at the La Jolla Playhouse, ballet at the Mingei from the Rosin Box Project and Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra at the Shell.