Rancho Bernardo

15-Plus years after Witch Creek Fire tore through East County, city begins road repairs

The 2007 Witch Creek Fire burned nearly 200,000 acres in San Diego County, destroying more than 1,000 homes and structures and killing two people

Santa Ana Winds Stoke Wildfires In Southern California
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Nearly 16 years after the Witch Creek Fire burned more than 197,000 acres in San Diego County, San Diego leaders Monday kicked off improvements and repairs for streets impacted by the blaze.

Mayor Todd Gloria, City Councilwoman Marni von Wilpert and state Senate President pro-Tempore Toni G. Atkins joined city staff and community members on Monday to begin the Witch Creek Fire Street Improvements project in Rancho Bernardo.

"San Diego's road-repair investments have historically been as patchy as our pavement and inadequate to keep our network of roughly 3,000 miles of streets in the condition that residents expect," Gloria said in a statement. "My administration is moving to change that with consistent, focused investments in cost-effective road repairs. The residents of Rancho Bernardo's Westwood neighborhood have waited far too long for their streets to be fixed, and I'm happy that, today, we are getting it done."

The $5.26 million project is intended to repair 2.3 miles of roads with asphalt overlay, upgrade sidewalks and curb ramps to be ADA-compliant, remove and replace cross gutters and curbs and gutters, and restripe roadways. All resurfacing is expected to be completed by the end of June, according to the city.

"Sixteen years after the Witch Creek fire burned through this community, the Westwood neighborhood of Rancho Bernardo is finally on its way to healing," said Atkins. "I appreciate the residents who never stopped advocating for funding to fix their streets."

The Witch Creek Fire started Oct. 21, 2007, when Santa Ana winds knocked down power lines east of Ramona. Flames spread to San Diego city limits and merged with the Guejito Fire, which started in the San Pasqual Valley. 9,000 of the 20,000 acres burned were within the city of San Diego.

At the time, the fire was the fourth-largest blaze in California history. More than 360 homes were lost to the fire in Rancho San Bernardo alone of more than 1,000 structures destroyed. The fire killed a couple in their home in Poway.

Since 2007, following years of devastating fire seasons across the state, the Witch Creek Fire dropped to 19th-largest, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

"Sixteen years later, this community is still recovering from the devastating wildfires," von Wilpert said. "These repairs are critical to that recovery process."

Funding for the project includes $2.5 million in a state grant designated for wildfire repairs provided by Atkins. Work will take place on Aguamiel Road, Azucar Way, Alcalde Court, Grillo Court, Nevoso Way, Sedero Court, Palito Court, Danza Circle, Escoba Place, Aliento Court and Cabela Drive.

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