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County fires continue destructive path

Hunter requests military's help to fight fires

Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon) is requesting the immediate mobilization of available military resources to assist firefighting efforts in Southern California.

The ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee made the request in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates Monday.

Hunter would like all relevant military aerial firefighting units are mobilized, in addition to all other military fire fighting assets.

“Please ensure that all organic capabilities from military installations in close proximity to the affected counties are available to provide maximum support to the state of California,” Hunter wrote in his letter.

“It is my understanding that the department has mobilized and pre-positioned supplies in response to other natural disasters, in order to be ready to respond at a moment’s notice,” he continued. “I would request that you take similar, anticipatory steps in this instance and work proactively with Governor Schwarzenegger to identify the capabilities he needs to augment his own.”

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UCSD cancels Tuesday classes; UCSD Medical Center remains open

The University of California San Diego has canceled its Tuesday classes because of continuing concern over the region’s raging wildfires while UCSD Extension and San Diego State University canceled their Monday classes.

The UCSD Medical Center and Medical Group employees, however, are expected to report to their jobs as scheduled. All UCSD Healthcare clinics and hospitals are open, but all non-essential appointments have been cancelled.

The air quality continues to threaten the health of all in the La Jolla area, UCSD officials said. All non-essential personnel are being asked not to come to campus.

The fires are still uncontained and other nearby entities, such as the San Diego Unified School District, are closing Tuesday.

UCSD also closed its campus Monday, citing the proximity of the wildfires and the extremely unhealthy quality of the air. Updates will be given at the UCSD website, ucsd.edu.

Classes have been cancelled at all four UCSD Extension locations: main campus and La Jolla Professional Center; Sorrento Mesa Center on Lusk Road; Mission Valley Center on Camino Del Rio South; and Rancho Bernardo Center on Bernardo Plaza Court. Continuing education students should check the extension.ucsd.edu Web site for updates.

The San Diego State University campus also has been closed for all non-essential personnel as determined by their supervisor.

But SDSU faculty and staff were being encouraged to remain on campus, indoors, until 2 p.m. in order to facilitate an orderly exit from campus parking structures.

While there was no present threat to the campus from local wildfires Monday afternoon, classes were being cancelled to minimize traffic on county streets and highways, school officials said.

Those remaining on campus – including students in residence halls – are encouraged to stay indoors to minimize their exposure to smoke and dust in the air.

SDSU health and safety officials are also monitoring air quality on both inside and outside buildings. Air conditioning systems have been reset to circulate air and provide the best possible air quality. The school will continue to provide services for on campus residents, including dining service.

Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to check the SDSU Web site at www.sdsu.edu or call the university’s emergency information hotline at 866-794-8832 for updates on the campus’ status.

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Governor proclaims state of emergency for Southern California

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Sunday night proclaimed a State of Emergency in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura due to more than 11 major wildfires.

Throughout the region, more than 30,000 acres have already burned, and more areas are threatened. The wildfires have caused the loss of human life and serious injuries. They have burned a number of homes, businesses and other structures. Residents have been evacuated in dangerous areas.

“My administration is working closely with federal and local officials,” Schwarzenegger said. “We will continue to mobilize the necessary resources to fight all of these fires.

“I am continuously receiving briefings on the situation and have committed to sending additional personnel and equipment, if needed, as well as setting up evacuation centers to help those who have been displaced from their homes. I commend those individuals who have acted quickly to evacuate from the dangerous areas, for the safety of themselves and their families.”

The Governor’s emergency proclamation allows the state Office of Emergency Services (OES) to deploy emergency personnel, equipment and facilities and provide local government assistance under the authority of the California Disaster Assistance Act.

The state is actively monitoring and sending resources to San Diego.

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Port offices closed; cruise, cargo operations will go as conditions allow

The Port of San Diego administrative offices were closed Monday until further notice because of the wildfires in San Diego County.

Only essential port staff will be on duty during this time. Cargo and cruise operations at the port will be conducted as conditions allow.

The Port of San Diego has offered mutual aid from the San Diego Harbor Police Department to the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services.

Port of San Diego staff may contact the Port’s toll-free number, 800-854-2757 by close of business Monday, to determine if they will be required to come to work on Tuesday.

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Lindbergh Field remains open

San Diego International Airport remains open during the fire emergency in San Diego County, airport officials said Monday.

Currently, flight operations are normal and airlines are operating with regular schedules.

Travelers are advised, however, to contact their respective airlines for information on possible delays or cancellations.

The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority is making the Gate 19 area at Terminal 1 available on a temporary basis for arriving passengers who live in evacuated areas and are not able to travel to their homes. They can go there to make phone calls, access the airport’s free Wi-Fi service and make transportation or other arrangements as needed.

Updates on airport operations will be posted on the airport’s Web site at www.san.org.

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District attorney investigators helping police fire areas

Investigators from the San Diego County district attorney’s office have been deployed to assist in providing law enforcement at the county’s wildfires.

“Our investigators are sworn law enforcement personnel who have all been previously employed as police officers, sheriff’s deputies or as federal agents,” District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said. “We remain ready to help out our community any way we can.”

The deployment is part of the Countywide Law Enforcement Mutual Aid, she said.

The district attorney’s office has more than 125 investigators as part of its Bureau of Investigation who are available to participate in the mutual aid. They are reporting to the staging areas at the Vista Courthouse or Grossmont College to be dispatched by the incident commanders.

Their duties include providing law enforcement to prevent looting in evacuated areas, supplemental patrol, traffic control, and security posts, among other assignments.

The D.A. investigators are carrying firearms, dressed in khaki pants with black polo shirts with “Police” printed in reflective lettering. They drive unmarked cars with emergency lighting and have their county identification cards displayed prominently.

D.A. investigators were also deployed during the Cedar fires in San Diego County in October 2003.

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San Diego City Council cancels Monday meeting

The San Diego City Council has canceled its scheduled 2 p.m. meeting due to the wildfires in North County, President Scott Peters’ office announced Monday.

Peters urged all residents not under mandatory evacuation to remain off the roads to aid emergency evacuations. All residents are encouraged to stay off their cell phones if possible, and to monitor television and radio broadcasts for the latest information on the fires, school closures and evacuation routes.

Items on the council agenda scheduled for today will be tentatively rescheduled for Tuesday.

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San Diego Superior Courts closed

The San Diego County Superior Court has closed all of its courthouses Monday because of the magnitude of the fires in the county.

All court employees are being told not to report to work.

All jurors are also being told not to report to the courthouses Monday.

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San Diego Red Cross to provide shelters for evacuees

The American Red Cross will be operating several shelters to provide for those recently displaces by the Harris and Witch Creek fires.

Here is a recent list of shelters:

Escondido High School, 1535 North Broadway (Thomas Brothers Map Page 1109, H-6).

Santana High School, 9915 Magnolia Avenue, Santee (Thomas Brothers Map Page 1231, E-4).

Mira Mesa High School, 10510 Reagan Road (off Mira Mesa Boulevard).

Steele Canyon High School, 12440 Campo Road, Spring Valley (Thomas Brothers Map Page 1272, B-7)

Campo Community Center, 976 Sheridan Road, Campo

The Poway High School shelter is CLOSED.

As of noon, there were 425 individuals at the Steele Canyon shelter, with 90 people inside; 1,150 people at the Mira Mesa shelter; 40 at the Santana shelter; 700 at the Escondido shelter; and 90 at the Campo shelter.

People with large should to take them to the Lakeside Rodeo Grounds, located at Highway 67 and Mapleview Street, or the San Diego County Fairgrounds in Del Mar. Household pets should be placed in carriers or crates, plus supplies such as food and leashes, if they are brought to Red Cross shelters.

Those affected are encouraged to register themselves on the Safe and Well website at www.safeandwell.org, or call 1 (866) GET INFO to be registered.

The Salvation Army has mobile feeding units in five shalters: two units at the Qualcomm Evacuation Center, one unit in the Mira Mesa High School Evacuation Center, one unit at the Escondido High School Evacuation Center, one unit at the Campo Community Center, and one unit at the Lakeside Rodeo Grounds/Hanson Ranch.

The organization is providing water, meals, juice, coffee, and snacks. Meals are being preparedat The Salvation Army Kroc Center, The Salvation Army Escondido Corps and The Salvation Army El Cajon Corps. There are also clothing and personal hygiene kits at some locations.

The Salvation Army is also serving first responders, providing water and food as well as lip balm, socks, and comfort.

To help, call 1 (866) ILL HELP or donate on line at www.sandiego.salvationarmy.org

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Officials move to curb use of major freeways as fires spread

San Diego County residents are being urged to avoid using major highways because they need to remain clear for evacuations as multiple fires across the county continue to spread, emergency officials said Monday morning.

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County fires spread, killing 1 and destroying homes

Fire crews frantically fought to save homes across Southern California early Monday as about a dozen out-of-control wildfires engulfed swaths of the drought-parched region.

Several new fires broke out to the south in San Diego County as winds continued to lash the region, and thousands of homes were at risk.

"The winds are up, it's very, very dangerous conditions," San Diego County spokeswoman Lesley Kirk said. "Fires are popping up all over the place."

Winds were expected to keep gusting as the day progressed, Kirk said, making for brutal fire fighting conditions.

One person died in a fire near San Diego, which burned more than 14,000 acres -- or about 22 square miles -- about 70 miles southeast of San Diego, just north of the Mexican border town of Tecate, California Department of Forestry spokesman Matt Streck said. Details were not immediately available.

Four firefighters and at least 10 other people were hospitalized, Streck said. Some of the injured were hikers, and others may be illegal immigrants.

Another blaze devoured more than 5,000 acres in northern San Diego County and forced the evacuation of the community of Ramona, which has a population of about 36,000.

Several structures were burned on the edge of town and sheriff's deputies called residents to alert them the fire was approaching the city, said San Diego sheriff's Lt. Phil Brust.

Early Monday, several new wildfires broke out in San Diego County, officials said. Kirk said six blazes were active in the county. She said fire crews were stretched thin and were anxiously awaiting reinforcements from other parts of the state.

The San Diego County fires were among about a dozen blazes that burned more than 40,000 acres from north of Santa Barbara to San Diego. Late Sunday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in seven Southern California counties.

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Resources:

American Red Cross San Diego/Imperial Counties

San Diego County Emergency Homepage

San Diego Humane Society

-- The Associated Press

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