Sunday night, March 8, NBC’s “Dateline” will feature the Cedar Fire, the largest wildfire in the recorded history of California. In the one-hour episode of a three-part disaster series called “Escape,” narrator Josh Elliott visits the scene and interviews 14 survivors whose lives have been changed forever.
In 2003 the fire burned over 273,000 acres in San Diego County. During the first night on October 25, the fast moving fire driven by a strong northeast wind killed 14 people east of San Diego in Wildcat Canyon and Eucalyptus Hills who had little or no warning. Eight of those killed died while they were evacuating. The fire destroyed 2,232 homes in San Diego, Alpine, Harbison Canyon, Crest, Cuyamaca, Julian, and Santa Ysabel.
While trying to defend a house near Santa Ysabel, fire Captain Steven Rucker, 38, from the Novato Fire Department was overrun by the fire and killed on October 29, becoming the 15th victim.
Below is a very interesting animation of the spread of the Cedar Fire, which was initially pushed by very strong Santa Ana winds blowing from the northeast and east.
(The animation is no longer available)