Lilac Fire 911 calls describe fire's destruction, 211 frustration

Posted at 6:11 PM, Jan 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-11 02:25:54-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Emergency calls logged as the Lilac Fire erupted in North San Diego County last December paint a scene of devastation in some areas.

The recently released 911 calls showed how the frightening scene in the Bonsall area unfolded on Dec. 7, 2017.

"I know you guys are super busy ... but there are several houses on my street burning and I haven't seen a single engine company or anything," one off-duty firefighter reported.


"Cal Fire is managing this, I'm going to pass that along, but you guys need to get out of there," the dispatcher warned.

One caller from near the San Luis Rey Training Center - where the fire ripped through, killing 46 horses - saw the flames approaching the center.

"It's right behind us and there [are] 500 horses here so it's a slight problem," the caller said.


A 12-year-old called crews as the fire approached her home: "We live on the hill ... part of the hill is on fire," the young girl said. "It's pretty close."

One call showed frustration, as some residents dialing 211 were reportedly unable to get information.

"Is there an evacuation? ... We okay?" one woman asked.


The dispatcher recommended she call 211.

"No, honey, I can't even get anything. I dialed 211 and there's nothing. There's not even a ringtone," the woman said.

The Lilac Fire burned 4,100 in San Diego, destroyed 157 structures and damaged 64 others. Thousands were forced to evacuate the Bonsall area due to the blaze.

At least six injuries were reported. Three civilians suffered non-life threatening burn injuries and another was treated for smoke inhalation. One firefighter suffered a dislocated shoulder but reset his arm and jumped back into battling the fire. A second firefighter was hospitalized for smoke inhalation.

10News reporter Bree Steffen delves into the 911 tapes and how residents reacted on 10News at 11 p.m.