SPRING VALLEY (CNS) - This is one monitor that needs to be more closely monitored.
"Bubbles," a 5 1/2-foot exotic lizard that serves as a popular mascot of sorts at an East County pet shop, is back where he belongs as Friday, five days after he apparently got an irresistible yen to roam.
The disappearance of the roughly 5-year-old black-throated monitor -- the reptile made his escape by pushing his way past a cage blocking a back door -- led to a modest flurry of publicity, and one of those news accounts directly led to his return, said Jim Kmet, manager of Bubbles' home, Mike's Pets in Spring Valley.
It seems a Los Angeles man in the San Diego area on business heard a radio report about the errant reptile on Thursday and, finding himself in the neighborhood, stopped by the Paradise Valley Road store to help track down the creature.
On a hillside about 75 yards behind the store, the out-of-towner came across the footloose lizard sunning himself on top of a patch of hillside foliage, Kmet said. The area had been repeatedly searched since Sunday, but Bubbles had managed to remain undetected.
"Obviously, he found a good hiding spot," the store manager said.
The cold-blooded quarry initially was not keen on giving up his freedom.
"He didn't event recognize us (at first) ... . He got a wild instinct just from four days," Kmet said. "It took him a long time to calm down."
Once back at the strip-mall business where he has lived for several years, Bubbles, notably hungry and thirsty, seemed content to be out of the elements again.
Bubbles' worrisome breakout will lead to added precautions -- possibly including a rear screen door at the pet shop -- to keep him from going on the lam again, according to Kmet.
"It was unfortunate, but we learned our lesson," he said.
Due to strong and gusty Santa Ana winds and a red flag warning, several San Diego County school districts were closed Tuesday after San Diego Gas & Electric officials shut off power for several thousand customers as a safety precaution.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials will shut down several lanes of traffic beginning Tuesday morning at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry to install equipment in preparation for the arrival of the migrant caravan, the agency said.
Santa Ana winds continued Tuesday to plague firefighters battling the deadly Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles and Ventura counties as officials re-emphasized to evacuated residents that they must stay away until the area has been declared safe.
Police on Tuesday were searching for a man suspected of robbing a smoothie bar at gunpoint in Mira Mesa.
Santa Ana winds continue Tuesday, weakening Wednesday through Thursday. Very dry and gusty conditions will continue to bring elevated fire risk through Wednesday.
Santa Ana winds picked up again Monday and were expected to continue into Tuesday as firefighters battling the deadly Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles and Ventura counties worked to hold back the flames.
Deputies shot and killed a man Monday afternoon during a confrontation at an East County apartment complex.
Among the Paradise residents that lost their homes to the Camp Fire were several graduates of Chula Vista High School.
Democrats have won two Republican-held California state Senate seats in the Central Valley, giving the party veto-proof supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature.