Keep Your Guard Up: Wildfires Are Always a Threat, No Matter the Month

Late-year fire weather is reminding some locals of the Lilac Fire that sparked in December of 2017 and burned for weeks

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Just because your boots, blankets and hoodies are out of the closet doesn't mean wildfires can't devastate San Diego County.

“The potential is there. It’s always there," Cal Fire Captain Thomas Shoots said as he stood against a backdrop of dried brush and dry blue skies.

He was worried San Diegans might take down their guard as the weather cools and we flip the calendar to December.

“Honestly, we have a ton of distractions this year,” said Capt. Shoots. “We have everything going on with COVID, we do have the cooler nights, and so it does give you that false sense of security that everything’s OK."

December wildfires have devastated parts of the county before. In 2017, the Lilac Fire ignited in Bonsall and destroyed Mike and Tami Hulsizer’s home.

“I think about it. Not much. I don’t dwell on it really,” said Mike. “It was one of those things when you live out in the country, you have a chance that it might happen, and it happened.”

“We all get nervous and anxious out here,” Tami said while standing in front of the home they built to replace the one stolen by the fire.

The calm, cool weather Friday reminded them that wildfires are always a threat in San Diego County.

“It was devastating, and it still gets to me,” admitted Tami.

The reality manifested itself Friday in the Japatul Valley Friday as the Hawk Fire sparked during a red flag warning.

“In the East County, they’re getting those gusts. They’re getting the gusts in the 50 mile-per-hour range,” said Shoots. “If a fire starts somewhere, it will be able to carry very easily.”

Shoots said Cal Fire has maintained the same staffing levels as it did during the hotter, dryer summer months.

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