San Diego County Braces for Wildfires in a Time of Drought

California kicked off Wildfire Preparedness Week on Monday

NBC Universal, Inc.

0.02 inches.

Pinch your fingers together and try to imagine 0.02 inches.

That’s how much rain fell at San Diego International Airport in April. 30 days in San Diego and the airport measured 0.02 inches of rainfall.

“It’s more than a little concerning,” said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Issac Sanchez.

The extremely low rainfall could push federal and state forecasters to declare a severe drought for San Diego County.

At the same time, Monday marked the beginning of Wildfire Preparedness Week in California. The heads of multiple fire agencies and local government leaders met at Cal Fire’s Ramona Air Attack Base. The weeklong event looks to remind Californians to take steps to reduce wildfire risks by hardening your home, creating defensible space on your property, and having a plan in the worst-case scenario.

“Be prepared right along with us because things are not going to improve in the near future,” said Chief Sanchez.

The drought and the dry, windy summer months create a dangerous potential for wildfires.

“The best thing we can tell folks is, ‘We have to prepare for the worst,’” said Sanchez.

There is good news.

The San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies have invested billions of dollars in water infrastructure like the San Vicente Dam, the Carlsbad Desalination Plant, and water purification. The Water Authority has steadfastly said those investments coupled with long-standing conservation will protect San Diego County ratepayers from any water restrictions in 2022 and through 2045.

At the same time, Chief Sanchez said San Diego County is one of the most prepared areas in the country for wildfire. However, he said firefighters will not sit back and relax.

“It’s just a long grind that we’re just at the beginning of this year that we all have to be ready for,” he said. “Get prepared because fires are coming.”

And maybe pray for more than 0.02 inches of rain.

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