San Diego marks the 10th anniversary of the 2003 Firestorm Friday. In one October 2003 weekend, three massive fires erupted across San Diego County including the Cedar Fire that was California’s most destructive fire on record.
For those who weren’t living in San Diego at the time of the Cedar, Paradise and Otay Fires, here is a brief synopsis of the Firestorm from the official review.
- Started at 5:37 p.m. on Oct. 25
- Using satellite imagery, it is estimated the Cedar Fire burned with a wind speed of over 15 miles an hour
- At 11:18 p.m., a CDF Battalion Chief on the east end of San Diego Country Estates reported flames 75 to 100-feet tall.
- By midnight, firefighting resources from outside jurisdictions began arriving to San Diego.
- Nearly 2,000 people were told to stay inside Barona Casino. Had they attempted to evacuate, they would like have been trapped by fire on Wildcat Canyon Road.
- At 3 a.m. on Oct. 26, the Cedar Fire reached Lakeside.
- The fire reached Poway at 5 a.m.
- The fire struck Scripps Ranch at approximately 8:30 a.m. and reached Interstate 15 by 10 a.m. and moved into Tierrasanta by 1 p.m.
- The Santa Ana winds first started to diminish on Oct. 27 around 8 p.m.
- By sundown on Oct. 28, the Cedar Fire had moved into Julian and destroyed structures in Cuyamaca.
- The most destructive fire in California, the Cedar Fire burned 280,278 acres and 2,232 homes. Fourteen people died including one firefighter. There were 104 firefighters injured battling the fire.
- Resources were first dispatched to the Paradise Fire at 1:30 a.m. on Oct. 26 with fire burning on both sides of Valley Center Road.
- By 2:30 a.m., the fire had spread to 500 acres.
- By 6 a.m., conditions worsened dramatically with reports of 50-foot surface fire flame lengths reported.
- On North Lake Wohlford Road, 60 citizens were trapped by fire as they evacuated in vehicles. Engines provided protection while the fire passed.
- In all, 56,700 acres burned including 221 residences.
- Two people died and 24 people were injured including two civilians according to the CDF final incident report.
- The fire sparked at 1 p.m. on Oct. 26, 2003.
- The smallest of the three fires, the Otay Fire burned 46,291 acres.
- One firefighter was injured and one home was lost.