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San Diego County, City Officials To Ratify Emergency Declarations Due To Fires

Pages of a birding book lie in the wreckage of a San Marcos home destroyed by the Cocos Fire, May 16, 2014

Emergency declarations prompted by last week's wildfires are scheduled to be ratified by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and the San Diego City Council Tuesday.

About a dozen wind-whipped brush fires broke out beginning one week ago as temperatures in the region neared triple-digits in some areas and went over 100 degrees in others. The most destructive blaze was the Cocos Fire, which Cal Fire said charred three-dozen houses and a commercial structure, forced the evacuation of Cal State San Marcos and blackened about 2,000 acres.

County officials and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer issued emergency declarations in order to tap state and federal funds to pay for fire-fighting and recovery efforts.

The siege of blazes started with the Bernardo Fire in the city of San Diego, which burned nearly 1,600 acres between Rancho Penasquitos and Rancho Santa Fe, prompting the evacuation of about 20,000 households. Among those evacuated was Councilman Mark Kersey.

The councilman credited local governments, firefighters, law enforcement and residents with implementing the lessons learned from deadly firestorms in 2003 and 2007.

"The cooperation that we saw, the collaboration with the county Sheriff's Department, to the military, the police and firefighters, Cal Fire from other jurisdictions, it was very, very impressive,'' Kersey said. "The fact that the residents were more prepared on things like defensible space was really key — that 100 feet of defensible space that we've been talking about for the last several years.''

Another fire in the city of San Diego last week, in Scripps Ranch, was stopped before it got out of hand.

Other blazes broke out in Bonsall, Camp Pendleton, Carlsbad, Escondido, Lakeside, Oceanside and Santee.

The supervisors are also scheduled to consider whether to waive fees on various permits for fire victims who need to rebuild, and to assist those who need to replace birth certificates and marriage licenses.

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