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County, CAL FIRE: plan for wildfires

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved spending $2.5 million on roadside vegetation management recently, followed by a July 16 Wildfire Preparedness bulletin generally warning East County residents: wildfire prevention is being funded but residents have to plan ahead.

According to county officials, 79% of unincorporated San Diego County, including a great deal of East County, falls into high or very high fire hazard severity zones, and District 2 Supervisor Joel Anderson said funding is especially crucial to the safety of backcountry residents, yet advised residents to plan ahead.

CAL FIRE/San Diego County Fire Protection District Captain Thomas Shoots said the region, which is surrounded by brush, grass and trees, carries fires easily and contributes to explosive fire behavior when fire weather conditions are present. He too advised advanced planning.

“Our greatest risk for large, catastrophic fires in the county comes from the presence of Santa Ana winds. Those winds come from the east and push west, meaning fires can burn from East County towards the more populated communities,” Shoots said and even if residents are not directly affected by fires in San Diego County, smoke and ash can fill the air throughout the region for weeks after a fire.

In 2020, California historically experienced six of the largest and most destructive wildfires in state history, including the Valley Fire that burned southeast of Alpine. It was, Shoots said, “an example of how quickly a fire can spread in hot, dry and windy conditions,” and ultimately destroyed 30 homes and forced over 1,400 residents from their homes.

Since the Valley Fire, Shoots said, several fuel break projects have been completed or are underway in East County.

Also, local staffing has been increased this year, he said, along with additional firefighter hand crews and equipment now available for fires in San Diego County.

In the most recent county budget, funding was increased to convert and staff three remote fire stations in the Fire Protection District from two to three firefighters, along with one California National Guard crew and one California Conservation Corps crew.

A Wildfire Analyst position was also newly funded for 2021 to assist with fire risk forecasting.

The ReadySanDiego website, found at has information on defensible space for local homeowners as well as evacuation tips, interactive maps and checklists, and templates for creating emergency “Go bags,” bags filled with supplies needed in case of an emergency.

County, CAL FIRE: plan for wildfires

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Source: East County Californian

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