Temecula Fire Chief from Cal Fire John Crater at the Fairview Fire Incident Command the third day of the blaze warned city residents that unusual wind conditions could at any time shift and bring the huge blaze closer to those living in the Glen Oaks area. At 4 p.m. Thursday residents in that area were already in a yellow or possible evacuation area as the fire changed direction again.
“With a prediction and what the fires doing the evacuations that are taking place closer to the city limits that is why I am here to represent the city and make sure we are ahead this when these warnings go out. People are going to have to come to the city of Temecula from Sage, Anza, Glen Oaks, and parts of Wine Country,” Chief Crater said in an exclusive Valley News interview. “ Currently we have two shelters open at Temecula Valley High School and at the Rec Center in Temecula.”
He said currently all the stations, while some units are out at the Fairview and other fires, are fully manned. “That’s a good thing.” He said the department has been working with Cal Fire Incident Team 6 which is coordinating the Fairfield Firefight. “They are doing an amazing job.”
As for Temecula, he said “I think we have a solid plan. All the players from the city have been involved, from the city manager, the emergency management office in the city, the mayor, and all the city staff.” Mikel Alford, Emergency Manager from the Temecula Emergency Management office accompanied the chief that day, with maps and notes in hand. “We are here to help the city and even the region.”
He gave this advice, “Be sure you have your Go Bag. Your medicines. Evacuate your animals early, if you are in the warning area (the Yellow Zone),” He explained, “basically you get the warning then you get the order, and the order is mandatory. With that, he noted, “The wind is shifting again. It is coming out of the east. You need to have an abundance of caution, but the reality is this fire has done things we haven’t ever seen before. This fire is not doing what typical fires do and it can go anywhere. Sooo, we really have to keep that in mind and give the people early warning and make the box big, so people don’t get complacent and\heed those warnings. People should be preparing… This fire could pop up anywhere.” He said the weather reports are saying more strong winds are on the way.
The fire itself, since starting at the south end of Fairfield Avenue in Valle Vista on Labor Day, Sept. 5, has changed direction several times, first strongly blowing eastward toward Anza and turning westward. Some evacuations were taking place in the west Anza area at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
One high spot in the weather forecast is a 50% chance for rain coming Friday that may help firefighters who reported the fire may be contained by Monday, Sept. 12.
Tony Ault may be reached at email@example.com.