Village News’ 20-year anniversary starts with Lilac Fire

It’s been another one of those weeks. As we were making plans to celebrate our 20-year anniversary, the Lilac Fire broke out. The Lilac Fire, like the Gavilan Fire of 2002 and the Rice Fire of 2007, started the adrenaline rushing in the Village News office the minute we got the call from my son Stuart Reeder and former managing editor Debbie Ramsey that there was a fire on the 15 South and “it looked bad.”

VP Paul Bandong had the first boots on the ground taking photos on scene almost immediately. Then we were so thankful for our Valley News crew that was able to step in and augment our Village News resources. Editor Kim Harris, assistant editor Alex Groves and photographer Shane Gibson all worked tirelessly from the time the fire started through the weekend along with us.

Forest Rhodes helped keep up the websites, Village News assistant editor Lucette Moramarco and Tom Ferrall (until he was evacuated) kept in contact with Cal Fire and North County Fire and the Sheriff’s department. Joe Naiman stayed throughout the weekend to help out.

Jenna Reeder and Jacob Gandy brought food to the office for us and Cheyenne and Shelby Cokeley fielded phone calls from anxious readers and helped follow Twitter, Facebook and the ham radio transmissions in addition to helping keep the office running smoothly as possible. Then our internet went out! So we had to switch offices and start working from our Valley News Temecula office. We were so thankful that our Valley News crew could host us for the weekend.

Those of us who have been here 10 to 20 years saw a marked difference as far as response with this fire. The response was so quick, it was apparent that the lessons learned from previous fires were used to jump on this one. I’m sure hundreds or thousands of homes were saved because of it. North County Fire Protection District PIO John Buchanan and John Choi were already out before the fire started, passing out information, including evacuation maps. Cal Fire had resources in the area ready to go because we were under a historic first Purple Warning.

It was important to keep people abreast of closed streets, evacuation orders, areas where the fire had burned and available resources, but now it’s time for restoration stories.

We had over 50,000 people on our websites during the fire and over 100,000 page views in addition to the Facebook traffic. We are privileged and honored to be the main communication hub for Fallbrook and Bonsall.

Reporting on the fires is important, but our weekly news is crucial too. The week before we reported on the historic water rights story, the construction on Mission Road and the new uniforms for the high school band plus many more stories. We love our jobs! Thank you for supporting us for 20 years.

To celebrate our 20th anniversary, watch for our new website next week, with a new updated classified module, subscription module, crime maps, photo galleries, etc. We are very excited and we think you will be too!

If you would like to support our staff, please subscribe at:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.