Skip to main content

Listen

Read

Watch

Schedules

Programs

Events

Give

Account

Donation Heart Ribbon

Special Project: America's Wall: Decades-Long Struggle To Secure US-Mexico Border

Dangerous Fire Season Ahead For San Diego County

Fire crews battle the Gate fire in Jamul in San Diego's East County, May 21, ...

Credit: Cal Fire

Above: Fire crews battle the Gate fire in Jamul in San Diego's East County, May 21, 2017

Firefighters worked quickly and aggressively to put out nearly two dozen fires in San Diego County over the past week. On Tuesday they joined with county leaders and emergency officials at Gillespie Field in El Cajon to warn the public the region could be poised for one of its most dangerous fire seasons ever.

"We have probably the worst risk of a major wildfire that we have had in a long long time," said San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob.

RELATED: 2,000-Acre Gate Fire In Jamul Under Criminal Investigation

The above average rainfall that drenched San Diego last winter sprouted an abundance grasses and weeds — some as tall as 6 feet. The highly flammable crops are where most fires start. Add to that the trees and brush that are already dead after five years of drought.

"About 90 percent of the brush on the hillsides in San Diego County is dead," said San Diego County Fire Chief Tony Mecham.

Mecham said the entire county is at high risk of fire.

"We have the potential this year for a fire even all the way out to the floor of Borrego Springs, and all the way to our coastal canyons — places that we haven’t talked a lot about: Solana Beach, Del Mar, all along the coast, Spring Valley," Mecham said.

Guillermo Sevilla,

San Diego County leaders and emergency officials Tuesday said the region could be poised for one of its most dangerous fire seasons ever.

He said it is essential for people to clear 100 feet of flammable vegetation from around their property. Residents are also urged to have an evacuation plan and sign up for emergency notifications on their mobile phone at www.readysandiego.org.

"The good news is that I do believe that our region is the most prepared region in the country," Mecham said. "On any given day we have over 50 fire engines in the back country ready to respond to the incidents."

The county has invested more than $400 million in firefighting resources since the 2003 Cedar fire, when walls of flames driven by hurricane-strength winds roared through neighborhoods. The fire killed 15 people, scorched more than 2,200 homes and forced the evacuation of thousands.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or subscribe to our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.