As wildfires continue to plague the county, here are some handy resources:
• KPBS has one of the better maps of the wildfires. It shows their locations and containment levels along with the locations of evacuation centers. The U-T has a good map too.
• The U-T lists the many local school districts and a couple colleges that will be closed today because of the fires. A few districts, including those in South Bay, will remain open.
San Diego Unified school board president Kevin Beiser tweets: “SD Unified Schools in Scripps Ranch and Mira Mesa will be CLOSED Friday May 16. All others Schools in San Diego will be OPEN.”
The San Diego district doesn’t plan to add any extra time to the school year to make up for the lost hours.
• NBC San Diego lists road closures.
• Sign up for those reverse-911 emergency calls here, if you have a cell phone. (Landlines, listed or not, are automatically part of the system.)
• The U-T has a list of hotels that are offering discounted rooms, storage and food to displaced people.
• Power outages keep popping up around the county. Check SDG&E’s outage map — not exactly easy to find on its website — to see where the lights are dark.
Are Firebugs Among Us? Not Necessarily
County Supervisor Bill Horn raised the issue that’s been on plenty of minds this week: All these fires couldn’t have started around the same time without the assistance of arson, right?
Well … It’s impossible to say at this point. But as we report, it’s fairly uncommon for wildfires to be proven to be caused by arsonists.
In fact, proven arson doesn’t appear in the list of the top five causes of wildfires in the county battled by Calfire in 2012. One of those categories is “underdetermined,” so arson could still play a bigger role than the numbers suggest.
No Drones Aloft Over the Wildfires
Drones aren’t being used to monitor the wildfires, we report — at least not by official sources. Authorities don’t own any. However, drones have been used to help fight fires before. And plenty of hobbyists are using their drones to take photos of the blazes, a practice Assemblyman Rocky Chavez complained about Thursday.
Meanwhile, as part of our continuing quest to understand the role of drones in San Diego, we put four myths about the drone industry under the microscope.
In other fire news:
• In new story, we pinpoint where communication failed as the wildfires progressed. (Here’s another one: Local and national media on Wednesday reported that 30 homes were burned in Carlsbad. That wasn’t true.)
Our story also includes insight on how things should work.
• A time-lapse video taken over a few hours yesterday reveals the ominous growth of the Cocos Fire, which has burned homes in the San Marcos and Escondido areas.
• Why hasn’t that DC-10 — yes, a big, honkin’ full-size airliner — returned to fight the wildfire in San Marcos? The U-T investigates and finds “the reason why is rooted in the U.S. Forest Service contracts, a coincidental quirk in the calendar, strategic decisions by firefight commanders and possibly costs.” But it may not have been needed anyway.
• Breezes from the ocean will return when the weather begins to cool down, and they could send all that smoke back our way. (U-T)
You can check on air quality levels here.
• The U-T’s fire photos from yesterday are here.
• The county has a list of parks that are closed.
• Gawker explains how a “firenado” works.
Quick News Hits
• A military contractor called Pratt & Whitney AeroPower has been struggling lately, shedding hundreds of jobs. Now, it will slowly close its San Diego plant where 530 people work, the U-T reports.
The company division based here makes power units for airplane.
• New statistics show that San Diego is a national hot spot for dog attacks on mail carriers. Not included in the statistics: San Diego’s reputation as a hot spot for a postal service that doesn’t like negative publicity.
A few years ago, local writer Ryan Bradford posted photos online of the vicious dogs he encountered while working as a temporary postal carrier here.
The photos went viral, and Bradford went to the unemployment line after being sacked. He later wrote about his weird experiences on the job in 2012 Reader story.
The story was a scorcher. If you get bit, sometimes the best thing to do is bark back.
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and president-elect of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Please contact him directly at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.