SAN DIEGO - Southern California faces serious challenges regarding wildfires heading into the next decade, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Services.
The institute's new study predicts two major wildfire disasters every decade through 2040 in San Diego County.
10News asked Jeffrey Johnson, who is with the county's Health and Human Services Agency, why such a dire prediction.
He said it is based on two things: one, global warming and two, an increased population in outlying areas of the county.
The study also will serve as a template for strategic evacuations in the event of a major fire to reduce the number of people exposed to particulate matter in the smoke.
Johnson told 10News the safest areas in which to live are those most recently burned because the charred landscape acts as a firewall in the event of a new fire.
However, the last major wildfire in San Diego County was in 2007 and in those six years, most everything has re-grown to pre-fire levels.
The new report also aims to create a template for a more strategic approach to evacuations in the event of a fire. In 2007, 500,000 people were ordered to evacuate. With the new model in place, that number would more likely be 300,000.
Johnson told 10News that he and his colleagues at the Health and Human Services Agency will now share the report with first responders, health professionals and all others called into action during fire events.