Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lakeside Fire Crews Respond to Brush Fire on Bull Pen Rd.

Barona- Just before 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 20 ,2011, Lakeside firefighters were called to assist several other agencies with a vegetation fire that was burning in the 1100 block of Bull Pen Road on the Barona Indian Reservation.  The fire was seen, ironically enough, by Barona Fire crews who were out training with their Brush unit. A medium wildland dispatch, which was quickly upgraded to a high wildland dispatch included Battalion 8, Brush 27, Rescue 27 (Barona), Engine 1, and Engine 2, Brush 26 (Lakeside); Engine, Brush and Medic 27 (Barona); Brush 4 (Santee).
The fire was located on a west facing slope and had a slight onshore wind behind it, pushing it up toward the top of the ridge line. This area last burned in the Witch fire in October of 2007. The vegetation, unlike how it looks in the Google Earth view, has recovered a great deal and had a mix of annual grasses, shoulder high poison oak, and dense brush.  
The fire carried well through the grass crops but did not burn well in the more dense fuels. In what is a carbon copy of the fire behavior of the fire we had just up the street on August 7, 2011 the dense fuels slowed the fire enough that it was able to be halted before it burned unchecked into the national forest.
Barona units quickly began progressive hose lays up the flanks of the fire, which were quickly supplemented by crews from the municipal departments, USFS and Cal Fire as they arrived on scene. The fire crews were aided by aerial resources as they progressed up the fire, which was moving up the hillside toward the east, being driven by topography and light upslope winds. The fire was quickly handled by the resources on hand and held to less than 10 acres. In addition to the engine companies and aerial operations, Cal Fire hand crews were brought in to aid with the suppression operations.  The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
This fire again illustrates that the vegetation is drying out as the summer progresses.  We continue to see an increase in fire intensity over the summer as the fuel loads become more susceptible to fire spread.  This is a reminder that all people who own property in an urban interface area should continue to be vigilant about maintaining their defensible space. In what is another example of how well the various agencies in San Diego County work with one another, especially in these urban interface areas.  It is due to the ongoing efforts by all agencies to train together and follow the same tactics and strategies during emergency operations that we can have crews from 7 different agencies all working together seamlessly completing an objective.  The training earlier in the year such as the San Diego County Wildland Drill, and the annual RT 130 Wildland Refresher Course are continuing to pay their usual dividends in our inter-agency operations as we progress through the summer wildland season.
Story and photos By:  Engineer/Paramedic Bernie Molloy

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