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2003 Cedar Fires Prevented Witch Fire from Further Destruction

The state agency CalFire says North County's deadly Witch Fire could have been much more destructive. But the fires of four years ago prevented that. KPBS reporter Andrew Phelps explains.

2003 Cedar Fires Prevented Witch Fire from Further Destruction

The state agency CalFire says North County's deadly Witch Fire could have been much more destructive. But the fires of four years ago prevented that. KPBS reporter Andrew Phelps explains.

The fires of 2003 killed twice as many people and destroyed more than twice as many homes. The Cedar and Paradise Fires burned up a lot of the fuel in the path of this year's inferno.

The Witch Fire was fueled by more extreme Santa Ana winds, which are hot, dry, and fast. The fire's rate of spread sometimes exceeded 5 miles per hour, faster than an Olympic swimmer glides across the pool. The flames leaped more than 30 feet in the air and hurled hot embers into unburned brush.

CalFire says the 200,000-acre Witch fire could have easily burned another 100,000 acres if it weren't for the fire scars of four years ago.

Andrew Phelps, KPBS News.

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