I recently joined several legislators to tour the site of the Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire disaster in 100 years, which stuck much of Butte County in 2018. The fire resulted in 85 deaths, covered almost 240 square miles, and almost totally destroyed the towns of Paradise, Concow and other communities. Sadly, this tragic death toll was surpassed in 2023 by fires that engulfed Maui, with almost 100 dead and many still missing.
Our region is no stranger to wildfires. Most of us remember the Cedar, Witch, Cocos, Guejito, Rice and Lilac fires which devastated much of San Diego County. In the aftermath of those fires, we’ve learned a great deal. For example, San Diego Gas & Electric maintains one the country’s most advanced utility weather networks. Over 190 weather stations monitor high fire risk areas and generate microclimate forecasts and fire modeling that anticipate the path of potential fires. This data is shared with fire agencies throughout the county in advance of adverse weather events such as Santa Ana winds, and is also used by system operators to shut down circuits to avoid fires generated by downed power lines. More information is available here
Individual homeowners can also help prepare for the inevitable. Defensible space is essential, especially for those living in the backcountry. Minimum requirements are 100 feet around each structure – your local fire agency may require more depending on circumstances. The County’s Alert San Diego website is a great information resource. Please click: here
A comprehensive list showing how to prepare and plan for wildfire emergencies with information on planning, receiving alerts, evacuation steps, home hardening, defensible space, and much more, is available at: Ready for Wildfire. For more details about removing fuel hazards from around your home, click Weed Abatement
We always need to prepare and be ready. We are just one spark away from disaster.