Nov 10, 2016 (San Diego) When we arrived on scene the sky glowed orange and residents stood behind a police line watching the Fire Department work. Multiple units responded, both ground and air. Residents said that the flames were very high. We saw them as high as 20 feet.
The San Diego Fire Public Information Officer told us that there were no evacuations in place. He did state, however,that they were trying to find and evacuate homeless people at the river bed.
According to San Diego Fire-Rescue Batallion, Chief John Fisher at 6:15 the 911 system received several calls about “a brush fire here in the San Diego River drainage, off Rio San Diego road.” He added that at the same time they also received calls about a structure fire in the apartment complex at the side of the river.”
Chief Fisher said the department dispatched two different responses, one to deal with the brush fire and one to fight the structure fire. They ended up using all units on the brush fire, as there was no structure fire. These included aerial units, which usually are not used in wildland fires, but were there for the structure fire.
Fisher also said that the fire was about 1 acre, but with tough conditions by the river bottom, with very heavy fuels, and a very dynamic fire. The fire department also used helicopters for air attack operations, which was vital but are rarely used at night. The reason for that is that it is hazardous for aircrews to fly these night missions. But in the judgement of commanders on the ground, it was important to protect the apartments.
Winds had died down, so they were not an issue. But he did confirm that they had homeless camps in the area, and did protect them.
They have no cause as of yet for the fire. Though Fisher said that it was still very hot for investigators to go in.
Finally, he said that crews were expected to stay for a few hours to deal with possible hot spots. He also credited the clearing for the fire to never reach the condos.
Trolley service will resume in a few hours. The fire department has hose lays over the tracks, On the way out of the fire we saw city busses likely transporting passengers. Their twitter feed has this in place:
#MTSAlert Due to a fire in Mission Valley, Green Line service is shut down btwn Qualcomm and Mission Valley Stations; bus bridge in place.