San Diego's East County Prepares for Red Flag Winds

Cal Fire says they're ready for the worst.

NBC Universal, Inc.

The corners of the Star-Spangled Banner stood still, pointing towards the ground. A nearby tree refused to move. There was very little wind to move them Wednesday.

That all changes Thanksgiving morning when a red flag warning kicks in for most of San Diego County.

“Critical fire weather and fires in general; they don’t follow a holiday schedule,” said Cal Fire Captain Frank Lococo.

The longtime firefighter said all of San Diego County is susceptible to wildfires and they’re ready if the wind fans some flames.

“The wind speed is the great equalizer,” explained Capt. Lococo. “It can cause the smallest fire that has a chance to establish to grow exponentially in a quick amount of time.”

“Absolute terror. Absolute terror,” sighed Amy Pat Rigney.

Rigney is the founder of the Horses of Tir Na Nog, a nonprofit animal rescue in Guatay, in East San Diego County. She said their ranch sits in a high-risk fire area and they’d like to avoid a wildfire.

“That nightmare scenario where we don’t have enough time to evacuate: That’s what really keeps us up at night,” she grimaced.

The past two years have already been tough for the “retirement home” for animals like horses, llamas, goats, and sheep. The pandemic strained their ability to generate donations and hire volunteers and employees.

“So, we will not tempt fate by inviting any more challenges,” chuckled Rigney.

Lococo said Cal Fire and the other fire agencies throughout San Diego County are ready if needed. However, he wouldn’t mind staying home on Thanksgiving.

“A good day is a day that is not busy,” he said.

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