San Diego

Local Communities Face Greater Fire Risk Than Paradise: Report

As our county continues to heat up a new report is sounding the alarm about wildfire danger.

The report from USA Today and The Arizona Republic says hundreds of communities, including towns here in San Diego, have a higher risk of a wildfire than Paradise, California, where the devastating Camp Fire killed 85 people last fall.

For many small communities in San Diego, especially small communities in the East County, the threat of fires springing up in an instant is very real. In Crest, east of El Cajon, Kandhy wears many hats including that of neighborhood Fire Safety Council Leader.

“Even if there's an owl stuck in the tree or you want to know where to get your nails done, I get the phone call,” Franklin said.

One of the most important calls Franklin can get is to organize evacuations in the event of a fire.

It’s a duty she truly takes seriously, working tirelessly to make sure people have emergency plans, know evacuation routes, and aren't caught off guard by a fire.

When she heard the news Crest is about as vulnerable to wildfires as Paradise, California, she wasn’t surprised.

USA Today and The Arizona Republic published a new report this week analyzing the fire hazard risk of thousands of west coast communities. It focused on evacuation routes, elderly population, emergency alerts and more. Hundreds of those communities have a wildfire potential greater than Paradise.

Local communities among them include places like Alpine, Valley Center, Jamul, Fallbrook and Ramona.

“The danger is very real but it's not just one that we see in the East County,” Cal Fire Captain Isaac Sanchez said. “It's one that we see county wide because of all the canyons and the mountains that are covered in brush.”

And with memories of 2003’s devastating Cedar Fire still fresh, Franklin isn’t taking any chances.

“Take the time, before the fire is here, before that threat becomes imminent and you have 15 minutes. Before that 15 minutes, think of the things that you could do that could change your life,” she said.

For example, if a fire breaks out and you're at work and your child's at school, how are you going to connect with your child? How are you going to communicate and make sure that you're all able to get to safety before that fire breaks out? These are questions Franklin says everyone, regardless of where they live, should be asking themselves.

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