“Fire safety is everyone’s responsibility,” Faulconer said. “The City is doing its part by increasing funding for brush management efforts within our open-space parks and canyons. Homeowners also must take common-sense steps to protect themselves, because we are all in this together.”
“Fires can go from bad to worse in a very short time,” Kersey said, “so firefighters need every advantage they can get in order to successfully protect homes. It is critical that homeowners are proactive in doing their part so, in turn, firefighters can do their jobs more effectively.”
Kersey represents the city's 5th District, in which the Bernardo fires burned 1,500 acres last May 13 and 14. More than a dozen fires broke out throughout the county, burning down 65 structures, including 46 single-family homes, according to county statistics. Several apartments and commercial structures were also destroyed. Flames scorching tens of thousands of acres of brush forced the evacuation of the Cal State San Marcos campus and temporarily closed numerous schools and businesses.
Damage to private property was estimated at $29.8 million. Officials figured it cost $28.5 million to fight the blazes, which includes the cost of debris removal.
La Jolla was minimally affected by the fires.
The City’s brush management regulations require all homes in wildland-urban interface areas to have 100 feet of defensible space and for homeowners to take other precautions to help prevent the spread of wildfires, including trimming of trees and clearing debris from roofs and gutters. In coming months, the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department will be conducting door-to-door inspections to help educate residents and make sure they are properly clearing brush around their homes.
San Diego has more than 500 linear miles of wildland-urban interface in which backyards meet the native-naturalized vegetation in canyons and other open-space areas. At the same time, years of drought have increased the flammability of vegetation.
In a related matter, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, June 17, unanimously directed its staff to convene a workshop of fire, government and military officials to further improve coordination and address 21 recommendations in a report on May's wildfires. Staffers were directed to convene the workshop within 45 days and come back to the board in three months with ideas on how to standardize regulations during red flag warnings and other dangerous fire weather.
Various agencies worked together more effectively during May's Bernardo outbreak compared with the previous firestorms in 2003 and 2007, but “we can't rest on our laurels,” supervisor Dianne Jacob said.
“This is an opportunity as a region to sit down and talk abut next steps,” Jacob said – “how can we be better, how can we be the best prepared that we can be and what we can afford to be and come back with some recommendations on how we can improve the region's fire protection system.