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10 Years Later, San Diegans Remember Cedar Fire

Cedar Wildfire, 2003

Above: Cedar Wildfire, 2003

Ten years ago Friday, thousands of people began fleeing neighborhoods across San Diego County as the wind-whipped Cedar Fire unleashed waves of flames that killed 15 people, devoured more than 273,000 brittle acres and destroyed 2,200 homes.

San Diego firefighters and city and county officials are set to discuss the Oct. 25 wildfire and share memories of the devastating event on Friday in Scripps Ranch.

Other commemorative events scheduled around the county include a remembrance at River Park Fire Station #2 in Lakeside on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to honor first responders, remember those who died, and celebrate stories of survival.

The Crest community is planning to mark the anniversary on Saturday from 1-4 p.m. with a memorial event and tree planting ceremony at the Crest Clubhouse.

The Cedar Fire started between Ramona and Julian when a lost hunter started a signal fire. It quickly spread as roaring Santa Ana winds swept flames into Scripps Ranch, Poway and Wildcat Canyon, where most of the deaths occurred.

Days later, winds shifted, sending flames to Julian and Lake Cuyamaca, where to this day, eerie statues from burned trees cover the mountainous hillsides.

Four years to the day after the Cedar fire, hundreds of thousands of residents were evacuated during another series of fires, including the Witch Creek Fire that burned 1,100 homes and scorched 200,000 acres.

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