Fire breaks out in San Diego – fire hazards persist in illegal migrant camps

Bone-dry conditions persist in California’s southland and water shortages have lead to mandatory rationing, yet San Diego’s picturesque canyons remain littered with illegal migrant squatters and their fire-making gadgets.

Over the weekend 45 firefighters fought a fire in tough canyon terrain near the community of Del Cerro off highway 8 and Adobe Falls road.

The fire was believed to be started by a homeless camp in the canyon. The blaze took two helicopters, eight fire engine companies, three brush rigs as well as two battalion chiefs and three fire investigators to fight the fire-thirsty canyon.

“It’s difficult terrain,” explained Maurice Luque, spokesman for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. He continued to say the canyon terrain makes firefighting with water tougher.
Multiple homes in the area were threatened by the blaze and the fire fighters had to water down roof tops to protect them from the flying embers.
Back in other San Diego Canyon regions the migrant squatter cycle continues unabated. Each time squatter camps are found, photos are taken and photos are presented to law enforcement, yet little has been done to get them to leave the canyons.

ICE and Border Patrol still are not allowed to check the legal status of all the migrants who are believed to be illegally working in the country.

More than a week after camps were located near Vista, and photos and maps provided to the Vista Sheriff Department, all the camps remain and no eviction notices have been posted.

“Some camps appeared to be vacant while others seem to have recent activity,” said Capt. Timothy Curran in a follow-up interview last week. He said his Deputies did not locate anyone in the camps, which is normal during the day when migrant squatters are seeking day labor or working in nearby fields.

What will it take to have these migrant camps removed from the San Diego Canyons?

Capt. Curran claims they are working on it.

“On 10-30-09, Deputy Aitken contacted San Diego County Legal Counsel, B. Ziegler, and advised him of the situation. Mr. Ziegler is coordinating with San Diego County Code Enforcement to contact the land owner for clean up of the property. If we are unsuccessful with this legal and appropriate tactic, the clean up will be undertaken by the County of San Diego and legal action will commence against the property owner.”

The message has to get out there that camping in our canyons is not allowed; Period, is San Diego resident Julie Adam’s point. “I know I was threatened with arrest if I camped in the canyon during the ‘Rick Roberts First Citizen’s Campout in 2006.’ I can only ask that these squatters not be told to hide better, but have the same consequences levied on them as was levied on me, a homeowner in the area. The law needs to be applied equally.”

However, as of yesterday no signs were posted, all camps contained fire making capabilities (propane and butane stoves, lighters, cigarettes, drugs) and evidence of heavy drinking – nothing is changed. All these activities will eventually end in another accidental fire and loss of nearby homes.

“Wow, looks like some long-term residents are residing in the canyons and all that fire equipment scares the daylights out of me. I’m disappointed to hear what Curran’s response is,” explains Suellen Shea, a Vista resident who lives near the northern county canyons.

Other problem canyon areas that continue to be inhabited by illegal migrants who stay rent-free are McGonigle and Rancho Penasquitos Canyons in the city of San Diego. More than a month after illegal prostitution was uncovered and numerous camp sites located, nearby residents there still see little progress.

“It should be as simple as the migrant liaisons going in and tagging (the camps) and then following through to see that they are removed,” says Adams. “ With citizens actually mapping the camp locations, there is no need for spending the extra resources on helicopters, extra patrols, quads, horses etc. I just want law enforcement to follow through with the evictions.”

According to the State of California Penal code CPC 647 (e); every person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor: (e) who lodges in any building, structure, vehicle, or place, whether public or private, without the permission of the owner or person entitled to the possession or in control of it.

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About thekdreport

Investigative journalist

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