Exactly 10 years after the destructive Cedar Fire ripped through San Diego County, Lakeside residents, leaders and fire officials gathered to dedicate land for a memorial honoring those who died in the wildfire.
The Lakeside Chamber of Commerce and Lakeside Fire Protection District held the special 10-year anniversary event on Saturday at the Lakeside River Park Fire Station #2.
The event – dubbed “10 Years After: The Cedar Fire Community Reconnects & Reflects” – was open to the community as a way to honor first responders and families impacted by the October 2003 Cedar Fire.
It began with a moment of silence marking the fire’s 10-year anniversary and culminated with a memorial dedicated to the victims who lost their lives in the deadly blaze.
In between, the event also included exhibits, disaster prevention education, guest speakers and book signing by Sandra Younger, author of The Fire Outside my Window.
"The Cedar Fire was a challenging time for our community," said Kathy Kassel, executive director of the Lakeside Chamber of Commerce in a prepared statement. "However, we came together and we not only survived, but came back a stronger community. This day is to celebrate what we have overcome, to celebrate the relationships we built, to thank everyone who was involved and remember those we lost."
County supervisor Dianne Jacob attended Saturday’s event and told the crowd that among many memories of the Cedar Fire, one in particular stands out.
“Neighbors got to know their neighbors; neighbors that they had not met or talked to in many cases. Communities came together,” said Jacob.
The Cedar Fire was started when a lost hunter lit a signal fire on October 25, 2003. The blaze stayed small through much of the night until Santa Ana winds picked up, causing the fire to spread from the backcountry into cities. It wasn't officially fully knocked out until a month later.