- Posted May 17, 2014 by
Elfin Forest, California
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Repopulating a Fire Zone
I've spoken to SD Sheriffs Captain Ybarrondo and sat in on a conference call with the area fire chiefs. Chief Twohy has also explained the situation on the ground for those interested.
COCOS FIRE UPDATE:
After a fire comes through an area like this, a large contingency of fire fighters, water trucks, environmental repair, utilities and assessment teams descend on the area to make sure it is 100% safe to repopulate the area. I am told that the logistics of an effort like this is not unlike a military operation. There is a central command, drop zones for equipment and troops and massive coordination.
CONTAINMENT: 70% as of this morning.
What this means is that they are drawing a physical line down to the dirt by hand or equipment all the way around the entire fire zone. This is what they are referring to when they say 70% Contained. This helps prevents creeping smoldering embers from re-igniting a larger area. Flares up can and do occur that are not contained by this line. Outside the containment line, they are soaking a large area as well.
So there are areas still that don't have the protective line around it. Another reason why they don't want to repopulate those areas.
Even though the fire has dwindled, there are many uncertain and dangerous conditions that need to be addressed prior to repopulating:
- this creeping edge of smoldering vegetation that can reignite a larger fire
- the infamous "widow makers," trees that burn from the inside out so they look perfectly safe but then fall over unexpectedly.
- debris everywhere
- downed trees
- downed powerlines
- flare ups
- environmental damage from bulldozers and fire crews need to be repaired to avoid problems with erosion (and fire hazards) later down the line
- assessing each and every building in the zone to ensure safety and habitability
- power line inspection, repair.
- and a whole lot more.
In addition, there are drop zones (where vehicles, supplies and personnel are brought in) located around the area. One near the Spiritualist Center, one on Questhaven Road and other up in San Marcos / Washingtonia and Eden Valley). These areas, as you can imagine are very hectic with traffic and hundreds of personnel, firefighters, utility workers and more. This is why they don't want unnecessary traffic around those areas.
For all these reasons, all of Harmony Grove and Eden Valley will remain closed to the public for the time being. I don't have an estimate of when it will be opened. Elfin Forest could be released "officially" any time now, but as you'll see below, residents are being allowed access with IDs.
Access to Harmony Grove and Eden Valley is locked down pretty tight from both directions. This is the recovery area mentioned above. There are roadblocks all over Escondido to keep people out.
- North end of Country Club Drive is blocked.
- Kuana Loa at Harmony Grove Road is also blocked.
- Elfin Forest Road is open all the way down to Elfin Forest Lane. ID's required past that point.
- HGR at Questhaven. ID required and only if you are near Via Ambiente. They will not let you past Questhaven unless you live around Via Ambiente or further West.
- Wild Willow Hollow folks will not be admitted through at this moment.
Officially, Elfin Forest has not been released, but as mentioned above, getting in and out shouldn't be too tough if you have an ID proving you live past the checkpoints.
There have been reports that 211 are giving misleading information about road closures. Don't assume what they tell is correct.
Still in progress. Upwards of 37 structures lost all told. Will have more later.
The fire station says thanks so much for all the great food, but want to let people know that they are well taken care of at this point. There is no room to store food and they are suggesting you put that money towards a victim recovery fund which will likely be circulated in the weeks to come.