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CUHS teacher hurt while defending Alpine residence

January 03, 2001|By MARCY MISNER, Staff Writer

ALPINE — A local high school teacher and his house were in good condition Wednesday after the teacher fell from his home while defending it from a blazing wildfire.

Patrick Grattan, a teacher at Central Union High School in El Centro, was defending his Alpine home Wednesday morning from a wildfire that has burned more than 10,200 acres in the Alpine area.

Central Principal Emma Jones said Grattan, who commutes to Central and teaches Advancement Via Individual Determination and English as a second language, was on his roof with a garden hose and wetting down the area when he fell off the home in gusting winds.

The brush fire, reportedly sparked by a vehicle blaze and driven by 65 mph gusts, consumed several luxury homes but spared Grattan's house. The fire did result in the closure of Interstate 8 east of San Diego on Wednesday as firefighters from across Southern California responded to the fire. Local firefighters from several departments were called to Alpine on Wednesday.

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Jones said she spoke with Grattan's wife Wednesday afternoon. She said Grattan was heavily bruised but was set to be released from a San Diego-area hospital that day.

The news was much more grim Wednesday morning when Grattan was transported by ambulance to the hospital, she said.

"We're very grateful here this afternoon. When I got the first call … it was not very good at that time," she said Wednesday afternoon.

Another Central teacher who lives in the Pine Valley area was called home by family members Wednesday afternoon as the fire came within sight of the family home, Jones said.

Some residents of Alpine, a community of about 10,550 people, were evacuated to a local elementary school. The Viejas Indian Reservation, which includes a casino and large outlet mall, was evacuated.

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