San Diego County Board of Supervisors

Media inquiries: Steve Schmidt, 619-206-9108,

                          Donna Cleary, 858-805-1395,



Heavier-than-usual backcountry brush and other fuels this year could spark disaster

With the toughest part of the wildfire season looming, San Diego County is accelerating its efforts to protect people and property in the most high-risk parts of the region.

“We’re improving our fire prevention ground game and launching several initiatives to better safeguard communities that sit in the crosshairs of a potential disaster,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob, chairwoman of the county Board of Supervisors.

The board today formally backed the improvements at the request of Jacob and Supervisor Jim Desmond. The measures include:

  • Creating a network of fire breaks around Crest, Guatay, Palomar Mountain and other vulnerable backcountry communities. The state recently awarded $369,500 in grants to fund the Crest and Guatay breaks.
  • Doubling the number of home safety inspections conducted each year, from 10,000 to 20,000. Officials will encourage more property owners to create a ring of defensible space around their structures.
  • Teaming up with federal, state and other local land management agencies to craft a regional approach to vegetation management, including a coordinated plan for control burns.
  • Expanding a public education campaign aimed at encouraging homeowners to install ember resistant vents and other fire-resistant materials. At the urging of Supervisors Jacob and Desmond, the board asked that funds be set aside in the next county budget for a new grant program to help residents pay for these improvements

“As we enter the 2019 wildfire season, we have the opportunity to plan better and protect our families, property and homes from the destruction and mayhem of wildfires,” said Supervisor Desmond. “Through this action today, the county will be improving our firefighting capabilities, community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and home by home.”

Nearly 60,000 homes in the county’s unincorporated area sit on land that is at high risk or very high risk of wildfire.

Since a series of deadly firestorms in 2003 and 2007, the county has created the County Fire Authority, worked side-by-side with Cal Fire and spent more than $500 million on a long list of firefighting improvements, including new stations and aircraft, and the establishment of a bigger and better-trained firefighting force.