Recovery from October fires in southern California

October has historically been a busy time for southern California firefighters. From our Infamous World Fires document, here are some of the large October fires that occurred in that area:

  • Oct. 2, 1943 Hauser Creek
  • Oct. 3, 1933 Griffith Park
  • Oct. 7, 1971 Romero
  • Oct. 21, 2007 Witch, Harris, Poomacha, Horno/Ammo, Rice, Ranch, Buckweed, Santiago, Slide (more info)
  • Oct. 21-26, 2003 Cedar, Piru, Grand Prix, Old, Paradise, Padua, Simi, Roblar 2, Verdale, Mountain, Otay
  • Oct. 26, 2006 Esperanza

Many of the residents that were affected by the 2007 fires in San Diego and Riverside counties are still struggling to recover.

The San Diego Union Tribune has an article about the rebuilding and recovery. Here is an excerpt.


When the smoke cleared and fire crews returned home, officials began sizing up the overall wreckage.

Hundreds of square miles were scorched by flames that spared some homes while leveling others. Firefighters had wrapped whatever photos and mementos they could salvage in blankets and left them in front of burned-out houses.

The final toll was similar to damage caused by the October 2003 wildfires, in which 17 people died, about 2,600 homes were destroyed and more than 376,000 acres burned. The 2007 wildfires killed 10 people and burned 1,646 homes and 368,396 acres.

More than half of the houses that burned two years ago — 1,046 — were in unincorporated areas, which have issued a smaller proportion of rebuilding permits than cities and Indian reservations.

By last week, 239 houses and mobile homes had been rebuilt in unincorporated areas, the Union-Tribune’s analysis showed. Construction is under way on 137 others, and 39 applications are awaiting approval.

In San Diego, 365 homes and condominiums were lost, with the majority of the destruction in Rancho Bernardo, which was in the path of the Witch Creek fire.

Thinh Tran, the development official who worked at the Rancho Bernardo recovery center until it closed this month, said the city did the best it could to fast-track building permit applications.

“We promised them a five- to 10-day turnaround,” Tran said. “For a normal house, it usually takes months to go through the whole process.”

Over the past two years, the city has issued 242 building permits for single-family residences, Tran said. More than three-quarters of those projects are completed and the homes occupied.

Poway lost 90 homes and has issued 46 building permits; Escondido had 36 homes destroyed and has permitted 30 replacement structures; all 59 homes that burned on the La Jolla Indian Reservation were permitted to rebuild; and at least six of the 50 homes lost on the Rincon reservation have been approved for reconstruction.


Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.

2 thoughts on “Recovery from October fires in southern California”

  1. Ken correctly pointed out that there were numerous large fires in southern California in October of 2003. I added these to the list above: Piru, Grand Prix, Old, Paradise, Padua, Simi, Roblar 2, Verdale, Mountain, OtayThanks Ken.

  2. The October 2003 "Fire Siege" was more than just the Cedar Fire, but for some reason, the significance of the other fires is/has been often overlooked. For lessons learned, the 2003 siege needs to be looked at in it;s entirety rather than just what happened in San Diego County.It was very similar to all of the other years listed in terms of multiple fires happening at once in a relatively small geographic area. The "once in a career fire" seems to be happening far more than expected lately.Here is an excellent read for all firefighters: 2003:"The October Fire Siege of 2003 tested the modern fire service like no other time. The combined efforts of the largest wildland fire agencies in the world, the United States Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF), along with armies of local fire departments across the state mustered ground and air resources into the firefight as never before. At the peak of the fire siege over 14,000 firefighters were on the line. Never in California’s history were so many homes and lives in danger by fire at one moment. By the time the 14 major fires were extinguished, 24 lives were lost, 3,710 homes were destroyed and 750,043 acres were blackened."


Comments are closed.