Cost of San Diego Firestorm: $27.9M in Response, $29.8M in Losses

The preliminary figures compiled by the County of San Diego include firefighting-related expenses, law enforcement response, recovery and private property losses

The disastrous wildfires that ripped through San Diego last week cost $27.9 million to fight, and $29.8 million in losses to private property owners, the County of San Diego confirmed Friday.

County officials submitted the preliminary figures to the State of California this week as part of a disaster reimbursement process. Amid the firestorm, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in the county.

In addition, the county has requested additional assistance from Brown to help reimburse local agencies for the emergency costs out of the California Disaster Assistance Act (CDAA). That money will help local governents in San Diego County offset fire response and recovery costs.

Many San Diego-area agencies assisted around the clock during the fires, sending firefighters by the hundreds to the frontlines. Law enforcement officials also pitched in, helping with evacuations, while public works crews assisted in shutting down roads and assessing damage.

According to the county, the Poinsettia Fire in Carlsbad was the most expensive in terms of response, costing the City of Carlsbad approximately $12.5 million to fight.

Some of those costs are also associated with staffing the Carlsbad Emergency Operations Center. The City also estimates $8 million in costs to restore habitat and control erosion as a result of the blaze.

In the end, the Poinsettia Fire – which first sparked at 10:30 a.m. on May 14 – scorched 600 acres and destroyed five homes, 18 apartment units and one commercial building. An additional four homes sustained major damage and 22 residences sustained minor fire damage. Thousands were forced to evacuate.

The fire was fully contained by 5 p.m. Saturday.

Meanwhile, the county said the Cocos Fire was also quite pricey, costing the City of San Marcos approximately $10.4 million. That figure includes $6.2 million in firefighting-related costs and $2.5 million to stabilize and control erosion of now barren hillsides near residential areas, storm drains, Discovery Lake and South Lake and other areas impacted by the fire.

The Cocos Fire burned 1,995 acres and destroyed nearly 40 residences, one business and 15 outbuildings. It sparked on Village Drive near Twin Oaks Road and California State University San Marcos on Wednesday around 4 p.m., also forcing thousands of residents to evacuate.

The Cocos Fire was 100 percent contained by Thursday night, more than one week after it began.

As for the other fires that swept San Diego County last week, the city estimates $3.2 million in preliminary costs related to those blazes. That includes $1.2 million in expenses to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, as deputies assisted in conducting evacuations, traffic control and using the department’s ASTREA helicopter in the fight against the fires.

Additionally, the City of San Diego’s preliminary cost is $1.3 million related to multiple fires.
These aforementioned figures are calculated by local agencies. They don’t include the cost to area school districts or cost of lost business due to the fires.

As for private property losses totaling $29.8 million, the county said Carlsbad saw an estimated $12 million of that figure in losses from homes destroyed by the Poinsettia Fire.

Meanwhile, San Marcos estimated nearly $2.2 million in private property damage while the Unincorporated County area saw an estimated $15.6 million in private property damage as a result of the Cocos Fire.

For more details on the recovery process, visit the San Diego County Recovery website.

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