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Daily Dose: Lightning Fire Update and East County Wingsuit Jumper Dies

1,500+ firefighters continue to battle lightning-sparked wildfires in rural East County, court cases, Shane Murphy dies in the French Alps and more.


  • - Pure Flo
  •  (Saturday)

Lightning Fires Continue

More than 1,500 firefighters continue to battle lightning- sparked wildfires in rural East County that have blackened 22,846 acres and forced hundreds of Ranchita-area residents from their homes and businesses.

The so-called Vallecito Lightning Complex consists of six wildfires, four of which were contained earlier this week and two that raged on early today, according to Cal Fire.

Of the two still growing, the so-called Wilson Fire stood at 11,691 acres and 75 percent containment as 7 a.m., while the Stewart Fire was at 10,630 acres and 90 percent containment, the state firefighting agency reported.

Cal Fire estimated the cost of fighting the wildfires in rural East County this week at more than $5 million to date.

A total of 1,552 fire personnel were battling the flames by air and ground. The effort involved 85 fire engines, 48 fire crews, 14 helicopters, 13 bulldozers and 29 water tenders as of Thursday evening.

Of the fire personnel assigned to the Vallecito Lightning Complex, 1,108 work for Cal Fire. Other agencies involved include the U.S. Forest Service, the California Conservation Corps, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and various fire departments within San Diego County.

Assisting the firefighters are personnel from the California Emergency Management Agency, San Diego County Sheriff's Department, Caltrans, San Diego Humane Society, American Red Cross and the California Highway Patrol.

Earlier this week, the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar sent eight helicopters to help shuttle personnel to the fire lines and make water drops.

In addition to the still-growing Wilson and Stewart fires, the Vallecito Lightning Complex consists of the Vallecito, Cooper, Wynola and Shoots fires.

The Vallecito Fire kicked off the six-blaze cluster Sunday night, blackening about 520 acres southeast of Julian, while the Cooper Fire to north, and the Wynola Fire, off state Route 79, each spread over roughly three acres.

Yet another blaze, the Shoots Fire, erupted early Thursday. It scorched less than an acre before crews knocked it down.

No structural damage has been reported, but three firefighters have suffered minor injuries, including heat exhaustion and a foot problem, according to Cal Fire.

An emergency shelter was in place at Warner Springs High School for evacuees, who received word Tuesday afternoon via the county's "reverse 911" that they needed to clear out of their homes.

Members of the public with questions about evacuations or road closures were encouraged to call Cal Fire's local information line at (619) 590-3160 or follow the agency's progress via Twitter, at calfiresandiego.

Famed Ramona Wingsuit Jumper Dies

Shane Murphy, who gained fame as a wingsuit parachutist from mountaintops, died Aug. 7 in the French Alps not long after marking his 1,000th jump, according to news reports and his obituary.

Murphy, a Ramona High School graduate, had just turned 30 on Aug. 3.

Son Killing

An East County woman who was drunk when she fatally shot her adult son in a Rancho San Diego home is scheduled to be sentenced Friday in an El Cajon courtroom.

Josephine Ring, 68, was convicted in June of second-degree murder and faces up to 40 years to life in prison when she's sentenced this afternoon.

Defense attorney Jonathan Jordan said the verdict would be appealed over a number of issues, including an instruction the judge gave to the jury after it acquitted Ring of first-degree murder.

Jordan said Ring was intoxicated when she shot her son, 48-year-old John Bonfiglio, on Dec. 19, 2010. Ring called 911 shortly after 11 p.m. that day, saying she had shot Bonfiglio, who died at the scene of a gunshot wound to the chest.

The defendant was detained the night of the killing but not immediately arrested because authorities weren't sure if the shooting was accidental, self- defense or a criminal act.

Ring was taken into custody several weeks later at a health care facility in La Mesa, where she had been under a doctor's care since her son's death.



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