June 17, 2012 (Campo)-Darkness has fallen in the Old Fire area, where hundreds of residents are without power tonight with a 300-acre wildfire raging.

 

Approximately 443 households are without power as a 300-acre wildfire rages in or near their communities, ECM has learned.  Power is not predicted to be restored until 11 p.m.

 

Is it just coincidence that earlier today, electricity was switched on to the 500 kilovolt (kv) Sunrise Powerlink for the first time, as UT San Diego reported today?

 

At 2:53 p.m., SDG&E’s website states that “a combination of factors has caused a problem with a substation.”

 

According to Cal-Fire, the wildfire, called the Old Fire, began around 3 p.m.

 

At 3:56 p.m., an additional outage was reported, this one leaving 356 customers without power due to “a combination of factors” that “caused a problem with a substation,” according to SDG&E’s website.

 

Did SDG&E’s power lines or substation cause the fire, or were power lines shut down after the fire began as a proactive step?

 

If the latter, was a shutoff necessary to aid firefighters or prevent lines from igniting?  Was it really necessary to leave hundreds of people without power in the middle of a wildfire zone, leaving some with no communications about the emergency in an area of poor cell phone coverage? (Read more about the outage and the impacted areas at

http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/node/10073)

The Golden Acorn Casino in Campo has been evacuated as a precaution, Cal-Fire spokesperson Roxanne Provaznik advises.  The Old Fire is now over 300 acres. Winds have shifted, pushing the fire east toward Boulevard.

 

“High temperatures and erratic winds are hampering firefighting efforts,” Provaznik advised.

 

The fire is located south of Old 80 and east of Miller Valley Road (TB Map 1299 81) , according to Cal Fire. A Sheriff’s news release describes the location as near Old Highway 80 in the Crestwood area south of I-8. One structure has been destroyed.

 

According to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, about 40 people have also been evacuated from homes.

 

Eastbound Highway 94 is closed at Church Road and Old Highway 80 is closed at Crestwood and Sierra Del Sol.

 

A total of 30 engines, 8 fire crews, 4 airtankers, 3 helicopters, 1 bulldozer and 5 water tenders are battling the blaze.  Coordinating agencies including Cal Fire/San Diego County Fire Authority, the U.S. Forest Service, San Diego County Sheriff, CHP, Border Patrol, and  CDCR.  Cause of the fire remains under investigation.

For additional information, watch our site for updates at www.eastcountymagazine.org.

 

 

Also visit the Cal Fire San Diego Twitter feed at  https://twitter.com/#!/ and the Brush Fire Partyline  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Brush-Fire-Partyline-San-Diego-East-County/151582704905193?ref=ts .

 

Also, IPN reports that there is a traffic advisory on Home Avenue access to eastbound 94, where a tree has fallen across a roadway and the ramp is closed.