Tag Archives: Fallbrook Fire

Back to Normal

Things were almost back to normal today. I got to the office this morning and worked, Nathaniel brought lunch and we went out to dinner at Cheesecake. We stopped at HRO on the way to get programming cables for our radios and to pick up some new ones. Batch was feeling left out, so he got one for his car and I got a second one for my house. Bouse is now feeling left out, so he wants to get a new one. We spent the evening installing the radio in Batch’s car and programming radios. I got a lot of things programmed, but there is still a lot more to go. I’ll probably finish it up tomorrow.

Home Sweet Home

Aimee suggested we have breakfast this morning, so we met up with Nathaniel and Bouse at Marie Calendar’s. I had forgotten how good their blueberry muffins are, and the rest of the meal was pretty good as well. I wasn’t expecting to see Alanna there, so that was a pleasant surprise.

Nathaniel and I stopped at Radio Shack to get some overpriced speakers for our radios before heading to the office to get some work done. We worked for a while and then broke to install them. When we came back in after having fun in the car, I found that it was time to go look over the plans for speaker installation at the house.

We barely made it back to the office before I had to leave for Institute. We heard on the radio on the way in that there was going to be a big announcement at 7, but we didn’t know what it was going to be. I assumed it was going to be news that they were going to smarten up and let the residents of Fallbrook back in. Sure enough, it was although I guess it was to let us back in at 8. I had a good time in Institute, then had an interview with President. I sat around until he finished up interviews and then took off to get Panda Express for the family. I got there a few minutes after they closed, but they were nice enough to give me some of what they had left to take to refugees in Fallbrook.

Even though I was only gone for a day, it feels nice to be home and I am looking forward to sleeping in my bed tonight. I must admit that I got a great nights sleep at the Dowden’s last night though. It was a perfect temperature and I don’t know that I’ve ever been in a room that was so dark and distraction free. I even had to light up my cell phone in order to make it to bed from the light switch!

Out of Fallbrook

I made it out of Fallbrook this morning. I had a good feeling that I wouldn’t be returning if I left, but I figured I needed to get out and get on with doing something other than sitting around the house, smelling smoke and watching the news. I drover around on my way out to see if I could see any fire damage to report, but there was nothing. I drove out Reche from Green Canyon to Gird to 76 to the 15 and didn’t see any fire damage in town. The sides of the freeway are certainly scorched on both sides and there is some serious looking damage around Reche and 395. I took some pictures while driving which I will try and post from the office tomorrow.

I stopped and grabbed BJ’s on the way to the office. I had Nathaniel stop at HRO for me and pickup a radio for my car. We got it installed this afternoon for the most part, thanks to help from Nathaniel, Bouse, Batch and Jay. Now I just need to figure out exactly where it is going to get mounted and make it permanent or else it will forever be floating in my car. It is kind of weird having two cat 5 jacks in my center console.

After dinner at Outback (I had to take the boys out for their help in the installation – and get my food quota back on track), I tried to return to Fallbrook. After talking with Bouse, I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to happen, but I figured it was worth a try. I talked with three different sheriffs, none of whom wanted to let me through the roadblocks. After making sure they didn’t leave any easy to find entrances open, I decided to impose on the Dowden’s and spend the night here. I am now safely here and am going to bed in just a few minutes.

It looks like things are probably under control back in Fallbrook. Hopefully they will announce plans for re-population tomorrow, but I am guessing we won’t be back in until Friday at the earliest. This could make for some fun weddings this weekend…

Making Run for Murrieta

I will be leaving the Fallbrook house shortly and making a run for Murrieta in an attempt to get out of the smoke for at least the afternoon. I’m not sure if I will attempt to return to Fallbrook tonight or stay in Murrieta.

WinterWarm Neighborhood Email

Good evening,

Here is a message that my dad, Tom Chester, just sent this out to our immediate neighbors and the greater WinterWarm area of Fallbrook

They are still encouraging us to not use cell phones, so I’m trying to keep the office updated via voip. I can usually be reached via the office number or Tara can most likely at least give you a status update. I’m hoping to make a run for Murrieta in the morning if conditions allow.

whew! that was WAY too close for comfort. (:-)

as far as i know, no homes burned in the winterwarm and san luis rey heights area. my son and i traveled pretty extensively throughout that area this morning, and we saw no home burned, or any fire damage, anyplace. we even got to gird road, getting there through via del robles, and no fire damage was visible there, including on the other side of gird road.

here’s a map that seems to be the final map for the part of the fallbrook fire closest to our neighborhood:


Our fire is called the rice fire, for the rice canyon origin of the fire.

in my map, the base red map is pretty similar to a more accurate map i just saw on channel 7; the hatched red area is the additional fire area from my recollection of the channel 7 map. the fire apparently just touched gird road somewhere south of via del robles. channel 7 doesn’t have this map online yet.

there seems to be no actual fire, other than perhaps smoldering small patches, anywhere near our neighborhood. since we saw no evidence of fire on our travels, i can’t vouch that the map above is accurate for the burned area; the burn area might be _smaller_ than indicated. but we know the burn area is not _larger to the west_.

it almost completely puzzles me why they keep saying the fallbrook fire is zero percent contained. the only explanation i can think of is that they can’t get the normal “containment” in an urban area, since they can’t bulldoze a fire line and set backfires along it.

however, there is still a ton of smoke here, coming from the active part of the fallbrook fire in rainbow, and from the new palomar mountain fire that started at the la jolla indian reservation, which is now up to perhaps the 4000 foot level.

if the weather prediction about the winds is correct, that smoke plume will be blown away from fallbrook starting tomorrow sometime, but it may be days before the smoke currently over the ocean travels back past fallbrook.

fallbrook is still under a mandatory evacuation order, and they are still turning residents away from the major roads into town. there are manned roadblocks at via monserate / sr76, s. mission road / sr76, olive hill / sr76, old highway 395 / sr76, and e. mission / i-15.

i suspect they will lift the mandatory evacuation order tomorrow, on wednesday, but that is just a guess. winds are still howling just 5 miles to our east, pointing our direction, so it clearly isn’t prudent to declare fallbrook is safe until those winds turn around.

after i sent the evacuation notice yesterday (monday) at 1:32 p.m (gee, that seems like so long ago now…), i packed up my computer so was not on email again until now. that is why i couldn’t respond to any questions via email sent yesterday.

most people along acacia lane apparently got the reverse 911 call; however, several people, including me, did not. however, we packed everything we wanted to save in our cars, including my computer, and were ready to leave literally on a moment’s notice. i also knew from the location of the fire that we had a safe exit drive from our car.

my guess is that somewhere between 70 and 90% of fallbrook residents evacuated. camp pendleton reported that over 20,000 cars passed through their gates yesterday, with most cars having multiple people in them. that is a good 30,000-40,000 people, out of the total fallbrook population of 40,000-50,000 people, and it doesn’t include those who went out sr76, sandia creek drive, or n. river road.

at least 10% of the residents in our neighborhood remained, including me.

my family could remain in relative safety since we have very good visibility from our house of the surrounding area, and i knew we had a safe exit drive from this fire that was approaching from the northeast.

it was clear that we were not in much immediate danger at the time the evacuation order was given, and we diligently monitored conditions both from our house and from driving to other vantage points to pin down the fire locations near us. we continued regular monitoring throughout the night. also, ham radio reports kept up roughly abreast of fire conditions; they gave the only accurate reports of actual fire locations. it helped immensely that the wind here calmed at 1 a.m. last night (1 a.m. tuesday morning), with wind gusts below 10 mph and then becoming dead calm at 6 a.m.

we did have a scary moment this morning. the fire fighters tried to hold the fire at three ridges east of our neighborhood last night / this morning, but it jumped two of those ridges and made it to gird road, according to reports. we thought we were going to have to evacuate until our drive this morning found that the fire was only to our south on gird road, if at all, and we saw fire trucks patrolling along gird road.

the authorities made a good call on the evacuation, since if the winds were right, a fire could burn from i-15 to the COAST in only 15 minutes or so. since it took THREE HOURS for most people to evacuate to a distance of 30 miles away, clearly it was smart to issue an evacuation call early. better safe than sorry!

Another Day inside the Evacuation Area

I have nothing really major to report from today other than the fact that we are still alive riding out the fire in Fallbrook. My dad and I drove around this morning and couldn’t find any sign of approaching fire. There has been lots of smoke all day, but the weather has been great. We have had next to no wind and the humidity has been constantly rising. I think we are hopefully out of the deep end. There is still some good activity on the northern side of Fallbrook, which is threatening more to downtown than it is here, but with the better weather conditions they should hopefully be able to get it under control.

I was going to try and make it out this afternoon, but never found a good time with the varying road closures. I was really feeling the need for some BJ’s pizza – or really any good pizza at this point – so I settled for trying to make pizookies from scratch tonight. I’d say we made a cookie monster, but we don’t quite have the pizookie thing down yet. I’m thinking they have a different recipe for making them cause the taste just seems to be a bit off.

Other than getting really tired of watching the same news over and over again, the day went fairly well. I’m still packed and ready to go and am thinking that I am going to head out tomorrow morning one way or the other.

I feel like I have been out of work more days than I have been working. i took some days off for Idaho. I’m going to take at least a day off next week when Shelly is here and then I’ll be gone for the next full week in the Dominican Republic. I’m going to have some major work to get done the rest of this week I guess. It is probably time now to work on getting some sleep for the day and week ahead…

7 am Fallbrook Fire Update

For those that are not following the ARES net on the FARC repeater, this is the news I just got from from the 7 o’clock conference.

Fallbrook fire extends from

  • North side – both sides of E Mission up into resevior area – surrounded Red Mountain
  • Live Oak Park Lane – Waymond Lane – line SE to Gird road, slowly burning to west
  • Due N across Mission around Red Mountain, around Capra, Valentine Lane, Tara Roja Drive engulfed.
  • fire did cross Gird road near oak cliff
  • did not make it to hwy 76 at 395, but within 1/2 mile, small section did

Two corridors they are worried about:

  1. 76 corridor, N end of Fallbrook near Camp Pendleton. Preparing for evac.
  2. Morro Hills area was evacuated at 4 o’clock this morning.

Preliminary information for Valley Center: Started 4 a.m. at La Jolla Indian Reserveration,  starting evacuations.

Live Oak Park Road Outbreaks

Apparently there are some outbreaks along Live Oak Park Road. Locations unconfirmed, but it sounds like it may be closer to the Mission Rd end.

Unconfirmed rumors that they have one fire mostly contained east of Gird and North of 76.

The focus of the fight this morning will be Santa Margarita.

Smoke, but no flames

Still here at home. Didn’t see any fire throughout the night. All is well here, but it sounds like a lot of De Luz burned.

I’m told I don’t have many options for getting out today, but I guess we’ll find out more in the next few hours.

Things should get more clear with the sunrise coming soon.

Here is the latest update from the radio:

  • New fire at base of Palomar Mountain. Valley Center
  • I-15 open in both directions.
  • Camp Pendleton is preparing for evacuation.
  • New animal shelter in Oceanisde – El Camino High School.
  • Next briefing scheduled for 0700.

Surrounded by Fire

I was all prepared to get to work at a reasonable time this morning. I actually got up just after six and spent a good amount of time reading. After I was completely dressed and ready to leave the house, Susan pointed out to me that there was a fire nearby. We started doing some research and sure enough there was a fire in Rainbow that caused all lanes of the 15 to be shut down. There went my chances of going to work!

I did get some stuff done from home, but for the most part spent the day watching the fire and checking in on other people lost in the craziness. There was so much traffic on the Fallbrook ARC channel that it actually drained the battery in my HT. They ordered a complete evacuation of Fallbrook this afternoon, but we never got the reverse 911 call. My dad and I drove out to see what we could see and discovered that the fire was still down at Reche and Ranger and it seemed that we were not in immediate danger and decided to ride it out.

I’m thinking its time to get a ham radio in my car and maybe a real unit for my house as well.

I’m headed to bed now so I can get up for my shift of fire watch at 2. Please pray for the safety of the firefighters and other emergency responders.

Still at Home in Fallbrook

We are still riding out the firestorm at home in Fallbrook. We checked out the flames a few hours ago and couldn’t even find any visible from any of our ridges. It appears as if it is still burning near Reche and Old 395, so we think we are in the clear. It is all up to the wind at this point!

I am going to bed now and turning my primary/work cell off. I will be running fire watch from 2-6:30 tomorrow morning. Someone should be up around the clock if the need arises to contact us, please call the home number or my private cell.