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Firefighters save Del Cerro from Adobe Fire

Posted: June 8th, 2018 | News, Top Stories | No Comments

Jay Wilson and Jeff Clemetson, Editor

Juveniles with lighter suspected

Del Cerro residents are breathing a sigh of relief now that a brush fire that was ignited by two juveniles has been officially put out.

The blaze, dubbed the Adobe Fire, started at 4:10 p.m. on Sunday, June 3, in the area of 5700 Del Cerro Blvd. and moved west to east in the canyon between Adobe Falls and Interstate 8.

The Adobe Fire burned close to 40 acres along the canyon between Del Cerro and Interstate 8. (Photo by Jay Wilson)

“[There was a] tremendous effort by the firefighters on the ground who put themselves between the flames and the homes along the ridge of the canyon,” said Mónica Muñoz, media service manager for SD Fire-Rescue in a press statement. “[And a] tremendous effort by the pilots and air support teams.”

At the peak of the fire there were approximately 200 firefighters on the line plus fire-retardant-dropping aircraft from CALFIRE and SD County Fire and water-dropping helicopters, including an SDG&E helitanker, and SDFD Copter1. Without the immediate and decisive attack to the fire, homes would have certainly been lost. There was heavy vegetation right up to the backyards of many homes, which included brush, pine, palm and eucalyptus trees. They acted like torches.

At one point during the fire, embers from the fire were blown onto the College Avenue southbound off-ramp, and were quickly extinguished.

Fire crews worked throughout the night, using chainsaws to remove brush and trees, particularly close to homes, which eliminated potential fuel for the fire.

Despite burning close to 40 acres of canyon brush land immediately adjacent to Del Cerro residences, the only damage done to homes was to one backyard deck that was scorched.

The Adobe Fire burned up to, but not into, the Del Cerro neighborhood.
(Photo by Jay Wilson)

While walking the area on the Monday morning after the fire began, Battalion Chief Dan Froelich pointed out the precision of the of the water and fire-retardant drops that saved homes, and the 15 firefighting units and crews totaling nearly 100 individuals still on the fire line to ensure any smoldering areas do not ignite. The fire was 100 percent contained by Monday evening.

The Adobe Fire was allegedly started by two juveniles, one male and one female, who are both 12 years of age. They have been identified by investigators but because they are juveniles, their names and residence information will not be released. They used a lighter.

“Juvenile fire starter cases are each evaluated on a case-by-case basis,” Muñoz said. “Our investigation continues, and when the MAST [Metro Arson Strike Team] investigators are ready they will consult with the District Attorney and a determination will be made as far as the next steps.”

While the next steps for what to do with the juveniles that started the fire are yet to be decided, Muñoz said there are steps that San Diego residents — especially those that live near brush fields and canyons — can take to minimize risk of fires. One step is to consult SD Fire-Rescue’s Ready, Set, Go! guide.

“This is a document that has information about preparing your home, brush clearance recommendations and checklists of things to get ready to evacuate in the case of an emergency,” she said. “It’s excellent and we really want people to be prepared in advance of the high temps, low humidity and Santa Ana winds we expect this summer and fall.”

Ready, Set, Go! is available in English and Spanish at sandiego.gov/fire.

Del Cerro house fire

MAST is also conducting a separate criminal investigation involving a suspected incident of arson at a Bernadette Lane home, where a fire started the morning of June 5.

When firefighters calmed the flames enough to go inside, they discovered the body of a man in an upstairs bedroom. According to a report by ABC10News, the home belonged to Mark Himmel, although it was recently foreclosed on.

— Jay Wilson is secretary of the Del Cerro Action Council. Reach him at jwilson2@cox.net. Reach Jeff Clemetson at jeff@sdcnn.com.

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