San Diego Must Learn to Live in a Fire-Prone Region
Can California win the war against wildfires? We'll talk about how the state manages its forests and open space, the nature of wildfires and the continued development into the back country.
Tom Fudge: A week ago today, residents of San Diego County were fleeing the wildfires that had burned to their doorsteps. Today, those devastating fires are almost entirely surrounded and contained. The Harris Fire, near the Mexican border, is 90 percent contained. The huge Witch Fire is nearly 100 percent contained, and the Rice Fire, which terrorized Fallbrook, is entirely contained. The only fire that is posing a bit of a challenge is the Poomacha Fire, on Mount Palomar, which is still only 70 percent contained.
The fires this year burned more than 350,000 acres in San Diego County and about 1,600 homes. And like the devastation of the Cedar Fire, this year's fires have raised the question of what we can do to reduce the size, fury and destructiveness of blazes fueled by Santa Ana Winds.
San Diego is fire country. The chaparral that covers our wild areas becomes dry with age. Destruction by fire tends to be the end stage of their maturity. In other words, in San Diego County, fire just happens. It's a part of our natural environment. That's doesn't mean we shouldn't take steps to insure that we keep fire at a safe distance to protect lives and property. Today we're going to talk about that – not about buying more fire engines, but about how we manage our lands and urban areas to make fire less of a threat.
- Thomas M. Bonnicksen , forestry and wildfire expert and professor emeritus at Texas A&M University .