San Diego County ratifies emergency declaration for wildfires, San Diego City Council is next

SAN DIEGO - An emergency declaration prompted by last week's wildfires was ratified by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, and the San Diego City Council was expected to consider a similar measure this afternoon.

About a dozen wind-whipped brush fires broke out last week as temperatures in the region neared triple-digits in some areas and topped 100 degrees in others. The most destructive blaze was the Cocos Fire, which Cal Fire said charred around 40 homes and commercial structures, forced the evacuation of Cal State San Marcos and blackened nearly 2,000 acres.

County officials and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer issued emergency declarations in order to tap state and federal funds to pay for firefighting and recovery efforts.

The siege of blazes started with the Bernardo Fire in the city of San Diego. The fire burned nearly 1,600 acres between Rancho Penasquitos and Rancho Santa Fe, prompting the evacuation of about 20,000 households. Among those evacuated was Councilman Mark Kersey.

The councilman credited local governments, firefighters, law enforcement and residents with implementing the lessons learned from deadly firestorms in 2003 and 2007.

"The cooperation that we saw, the collaboration with the county Sheriff's Department, to the military, the police and firefighters, Cal Fire from other jurisdictions, it was very, very impressive," Kersey said. "The fact that the residents were more prepared on things like defensible space was really key -- that 100 feet of defensible space that we've been talking about for the last several years."

Another fire in the city of San Diego last week, in Scripps Ranch, was stopped before it got out of hand.

Other blazes broke out in Bonsall, Camp Pendleton, Carlsbad, Escondido, Lakeside, Oceanside and Santee.

"People coming together during disasters show how great a community we have," Supervisor Dave Roberts said.

The supervisors also approved waiving fees on various permits for fire victims who need to rebuild, and for those who need to replace birth or death certificates and marriage licenses.

"The folks who lost their property in the fires should be able to recover these important documents cost free and be able to rebuild their homes without the burden of plan check reviews and permit fees," Supervisor Dave Roberts said.

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