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Costly fire behind Home Depot off Palm Ave.

57 firemen, cops, EMTs plus helicopter and firetrucks come to the scene

Pamela Sophia exited the Home Depot on Saturn and noticed people in the parking lot gazing up at the sky.
Pamela Sophia exited the Home Depot on Saturn and noticed people in the parking lot gazing up at the sky.

As Pamela Sophia exited the Home Depot on Saturn Boulevard in the morning of March 10, she noticed people in the parking lot gazing up at the sky behind the home improvement store. She then heard the sirens of first responder vehicles. Seconds afterward, at 10:57 am, Sophia depressed the record button on her phone and filmed what was causing the commotion: a nearby plume of black smoke billowing in the shared south San Diego and Chula Vista airspace.

"So I drove around to the other side of Walmart to look," she said to me in a March 12 interview. "Only one firetruck was there at the time."

In Elias's 13-second clip, a helicopter is heard approaching from the east by the I-5 and Palm Avenue exit. It then flies into the frame, drops "pond water" onto the fire.

By about 11:02 am, she had parked behind Walmart, got out of her car, then filmed additional video footage: this time, it was the actual fire. In her video, the fire appeared to be blazing at over 20 feet, burning the overhanging trees and about 15 feet away from three Walmart trailers. A firefighter was on the scene, hosing down the fire. "I don't know how many [firefighters] were there," she continued, "but it was a pretty quick response."

(The initial 911 call was reported at 10:50 am, and the first unit arrived at 10:54 am, according to a San Diego Fire-Rescue Department report.)

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Jeana Elias direct messaged me videos of the fire from another vantage point. "I was at work at Home Depot," she said to me on March 12, "and I was standing at the edge of our loading dock." In Elias's 13-second clip, a helicopter is heard approaching from the east by the I-5 and Palm Avenue exit. It then flies into the frame, drops "pond water" onto the fire from over 50 feet above, then makes its way westbound, flying over the Imperial Sands Mobile Park across the street. "I'm not sure how it started... I do know they were bales of cardboard and pallets that were on fire, maybe a dumpster too."

Video:

Pamela Sophia's video

"It was a pretty quick response."

"It was a pretty quick response."

Sophia continued, "I left when the helicopter started dropping water. Plus, more fire trucks were coming in, so I needed to leave the area."

The fire and rescue report says a total of two fire trucks, two brush rigs, four fire engines, police units, a division chief vehicle, four battalion chief units, and four helicopters were dispatched to help mitigate the fire before it spread to the vegetation behind Walmart.

"We were just there," said an Imperial Beach neighbor. "So many homeless .... there and trash. Praying they can put it out fast."

"No one got hurt, thank God!" Elias exclaimed. "They did an amazing job and got the fire out fairly quickly."

Video:

Jeana Elias' video

"I was standing at the edge of our loading dock."

"I was standing at the edge of our loading dock."

The fire department's report states "a total of 57 personnel" came to the scene, including a division chief, four administrators, police officers, four battalion chiefs, EMTs, firefighters, and other personnel. The report does not state the cause of the fire, but it does say a fire investigator was looking into it. By 3:13 pm that Thursday, the incident was closed. "SDFD thanks the City of Chula Vista, the City of Poway, and the City of Coronado for their assistance with this incident."

A couple of locals, who saw the list of "total assigned units" and "57 personnel" on the fire department's press release, wondered how much fire mitigation cost the San Diego taxpayers.

In 2019, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department received a new, at the time, "$20 million" Firehawk helicopter, a Sikorsky S-70i "reconfigured with an aerial firefighting mission package including extended landing gear, a 1,000-gallon firefighting tank, and a retractable snorkel system," says the FireAviation.com site. "San Diego has two other firefighting helicopters, a Bell 212 and a Bell 412EP manufactured in 1980 and 2008, respectively." In 2019, The Mercury News said in an "LA County supervisor" story that the "Sikorsky Firehawk .... costs $9,500 per hour to operate, while the Huey-manufactured Bell Model 412 costs $2,321 per hour." On the March 10 fire and rescue report, "four helos (helicopters)" were deployed that morning.

https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/09/29/la-county-supervisor-avoids-traffic-with-helicopter-rides-costing-up-to-9500-an-hour-records-show/

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Pamela Sophia exited the Home Depot on Saturn and noticed people in the parking lot gazing up at the sky.
Pamela Sophia exited the Home Depot on Saturn and noticed people in the parking lot gazing up at the sky.

As Pamela Sophia exited the Home Depot on Saturn Boulevard in the morning of March 10, she noticed people in the parking lot gazing up at the sky behind the home improvement store. She then heard the sirens of first responder vehicles. Seconds afterward, at 10:57 am, Sophia depressed the record button on her phone and filmed what was causing the commotion: a nearby plume of black smoke billowing in the shared south San Diego and Chula Vista airspace.

"So I drove around to the other side of Walmart to look," she said to me in a March 12 interview. "Only one firetruck was there at the time."

In Elias's 13-second clip, a helicopter is heard approaching from the east by the I-5 and Palm Avenue exit. It then flies into the frame, drops "pond water" onto the fire.

By about 11:02 am, she had parked behind Walmart, got out of her car, then filmed additional video footage: this time, it was the actual fire. In her video, the fire appeared to be blazing at over 20 feet, burning the overhanging trees and about 15 feet away from three Walmart trailers. A firefighter was on the scene, hosing down the fire. "I don't know how many [firefighters] were there," she continued, "but it was a pretty quick response."

(The initial 911 call was reported at 10:50 am, and the first unit arrived at 10:54 am, according to a San Diego Fire-Rescue Department report.)

Sponsored
Sponsored

Jeana Elias direct messaged me videos of the fire from another vantage point. "I was at work at Home Depot," she said to me on March 12, "and I was standing at the edge of our loading dock." In Elias's 13-second clip, a helicopter is heard approaching from the east by the I-5 and Palm Avenue exit. It then flies into the frame, drops "pond water" onto the fire from over 50 feet above, then makes its way westbound, flying over the Imperial Sands Mobile Park across the street. "I'm not sure how it started... I do know they were bales of cardboard and pallets that were on fire, maybe a dumpster too."

Video:

Pamela Sophia's video

"It was a pretty quick response."

"It was a pretty quick response."

Sophia continued, "I left when the helicopter started dropping water. Plus, more fire trucks were coming in, so I needed to leave the area."

The fire and rescue report says a total of two fire trucks, two brush rigs, four fire engines, police units, a division chief vehicle, four battalion chief units, and four helicopters were dispatched to help mitigate the fire before it spread to the vegetation behind Walmart.

"We were just there," said an Imperial Beach neighbor. "So many homeless .... there and trash. Praying they can put it out fast."

"No one got hurt, thank God!" Elias exclaimed. "They did an amazing job and got the fire out fairly quickly."

Video:

Jeana Elias' video

"I was standing at the edge of our loading dock."

"I was standing at the edge of our loading dock."

The fire department's report states "a total of 57 personnel" came to the scene, including a division chief, four administrators, police officers, four battalion chiefs, EMTs, firefighters, and other personnel. The report does not state the cause of the fire, but it does say a fire investigator was looking into it. By 3:13 pm that Thursday, the incident was closed. "SDFD thanks the City of Chula Vista, the City of Poway, and the City of Coronado for their assistance with this incident."

A couple of locals, who saw the list of "total assigned units" and "57 personnel" on the fire department's press release, wondered how much fire mitigation cost the San Diego taxpayers.

In 2019, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department received a new, at the time, "$20 million" Firehawk helicopter, a Sikorsky S-70i "reconfigured with an aerial firefighting mission package including extended landing gear, a 1,000-gallon firefighting tank, and a retractable snorkel system," says the FireAviation.com site. "San Diego has two other firefighting helicopters, a Bell 212 and a Bell 412EP manufactured in 1980 and 2008, respectively." In 2019, The Mercury News said in an "LA County supervisor" story that the "Sikorsky Firehawk .... costs $9,500 per hour to operate, while the Huey-manufactured Bell Model 412 costs $2,321 per hour." On the March 10 fire and rescue report, "four helos (helicopters)" were deployed that morning.

https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/09/29/la-county-supervisor-avoids-traffic-with-helicopter-rides-costing-up-to-9500-an-hour-records-show/

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