San Diego People: Getting Wildfire Ready

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Fire officials are warning wildfires can be a big problem in San Diego County in 2016, and this week on San Diego People, we explored the potential dangers.

Nick Schuler is a Division Chief for Cal Fire San Diego and says the region is a prime area for fire season.

“Living in San Diego County is really a Mediterranean climate,” said Schuler. “So whether we get a significant amount of rain or no rain at all, we are still prone to devastating wildfires.”

San Diego County has had several large wildfires within the last decade. The Cedar Fire in 2003 is still considered California’s worst wildfire on record. It burned nearly 300,000 acres, destroyed over 2,000 homes and led to 15 deaths. Although lessons have been learned since then, Schuler says fires are still a relatively big program.

“Each year in our County we respond to over 300 fires, and that’s about a five-year average.” said Schuler. “So we’re going to have fires this year. It’s not a matter of when. It’s going to happen.”

Holly Crawford, a director for the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services, says the County has made huge investments for wildfire responses in training. Since some of the big fires in 2014, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors have spent over $300 million in wildland fire response. Crawford says one service the County has that few people know about is their reverse 9-1-1 system, which can help people get the message before it’s too late.

“We have Alert San Diego which is the way first responder agencies reach out and tell the public when we need them to evacuate," said Crawford. “We need your mobile phones. We only get landline telephone numbers into that system. You have to proactively register your mobile phone in order for first responder agencies to be able to reach you.”

Crawford says making sure people are informed is a top priority because it can help save lives.

“We really want people to make a plan, assemble a “go” kit, and to be informed about not only the hazards they are susceptible to, but the real actions they can take right now to be prepared for our next disaster.”

To learn more about what you can do to protect your home, how to create a “go” kit, and to sign up for Alert San Diego, visit ReadySanDiego.org

Categories: Local San Diego News, San Diego People