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Tiny Potrero in East County, the town battling the efforts of the mercenary firm Blackwaterto put a training camp there, has a new problem. A wildfire began at 9:23 Sunday morning. There are 300 firefighters on the sceme, 3 helicopers, 2 helitankers and 5 air tankers, according to reporter Miriam Raftery. Evacuations have been ordered west of Harris Ranch Road and east of Potrero Valley Road. Highway 94 is closed at Forest Gate.

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DavidGUrban Oct. 22, 2007 @ 10:55 a.m.

This is an awful time, of course, and I don't wish to start any of the inevitable finger-pointing that is sure to come; nonetheless, I believe the words of the former San Diego Fire Chief Jeff Bowman, who resigned last April of 2006, should be reviewed.

From the April 5, 2006 Union-Tribune article by Tony Manolatos and Matthew T. Hall, (plus Pauline Repard), here are some of the reasons for his resignation:

"Almost since the day he took over four years ago, Bowman was clear on one thing: A community constantly at risk for a deadly wildfire should be better prepared for a major disaster. He said it to just about anyone who would listen."

"After the 2003 wildfires, Bowman publicly ripped city officials for underfunding the department. “This city has not prepared itself for even day-to-day events,” he said during a meeting with The San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board. 'We did not have enough resources to handle the fire. For a county with the risk that this one has, I'm absolutely amazed at the lack of resources'.”

“ 'This is the most understaffed fire agency I've ever seen,' he said of a department with 875 firefighters and 45 stations."

"He said the city should have 20 more fire stations, which would cost $100 million to build and equip. It would take an additional $40 million a year to operate them."

"More bad news arrived for Bowman in February when fire officials said serious deficiencies in service and response times had kept the department from gaining national accreditation."

"Yesterday, Bowman said he would leave behind a strategic plan for improvement, something he's already drafted and discussed with the mayor. 'These problems didn't take a year or two to be created, and they're not going to be fixed in a year or two,' he said. 'I'm not sure it will ever happen. It's expensive, and the city has some significant financial hurdles to face in the next few years'.”

Now, I'm not throwing any blame on the current chief, who Bowman picked to succeed him, or Mayor Sanders. To a great extent, these problems were inherited. In addition, voters historically have been reluctant to approve fire protection bonds.

My question is, given the Cedar Fire disaster, with over 2400 homes destroyed, and Bowman's frustrations and subsequent resignation (which, to be fair, were also related to health issues and a pension benefit dispute), how seriously are the government officials and the city/county citizens taking the fire hazard situation that so obviously can turn into a disaster every year?

Am I alone in thinking that this issue needs to be made into a top priority? After all, we are ALL at risk here.


Don Bauder Oct. 23, 2007 @ 5:19 p.m.

Yes, Bowman was not heeded when he resigned. Some reporters have been trying to reach him. The basic problem is San Diego's unwillingness to spend money on necessities, and politicians' fear of uttering the word "tax." Best, Don Bauder


Anonymous Oct. 28, 2007 @ 10:41 p.m.

How did the fires in Potrero start? And, just wondering, - has Blackwater gained any advantage with the burning of the land near where it hopes to build its base? linda krausen [email protected]


Don Bauder Oct. 31, 2007 @ 4:35 p.m.

Blackwater is showering gifts on people who will vote in the upcoming recall election. Also, the mercenary firm is claiming that should there be another fire, it will have water to help douse it, and barracks for people to stay in. It is not mentioning, of course, that one of the biggest fears of the Blackwater opponents is that the munitions will CAUSE fires. Best, Don Bauder


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