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San Diego County to launch new program focused on home hardening for wildfires

Program to start in Dulzura, later move to Potrero and Campo
Posted at 8:41 AM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 11:41:06-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - San Diego County is getting set to create a home hardening program to encourage people in these rural communities to create better fire-resistant homes.

It plans to assist 500 homes in three-year span.

"Each fire you're worried. You're scared,” said Dulzura resident Jack Dillender.

Dillender has been living in Dulzura for about seven years and has seen his fair share of fires and the dangers they pose.

"I think we moved in pretty quickly ... right before the Border Fire, which burned toward Potrero, and that was our fire we dealt with,” Dillender said.

Folks like Dillender are applying to get some support from San Diego County when it comes to protect their homes and, most importantly, themselves from wildfires.

It comes from the Board of Supervisors green lighting a home hardening program.

"We recognize that if we can fortify the home and improve it's chance of wildland fires, ultimately, we're going to reduce our losses. Because we're always going to have fires in San Diego,” said County Fire Chief Tony Mecham.

Mecham told ABC 10News the county is receiving nearly $25 million in grant money from Cal Fire to fund the three-year program. He said the pilot program will award up to $40,000 per home and hopes to assist around 500 homeowners.

The two main areas being focused on is defensible space and updating home to more fire resistant.

"I really believe that this is something that's going to continued to be funded as people see the value of going back and hardening our older communities that were not built to the same fire safety standards we enjoy today,” Mecham said.

For now, the program's going to start in Dulzura this year, expand to Potrero in 2023 and Campo in 2024.

A preventative program that's more than welcomed for Dillender.

"Oh, I'm ecstatic about it. From the time that I first heard about it, it's really nice to be getting something back and to see they're recognizing what's going on out here. And recognizing the fact that people do need help out here,” Dillender said.

The county fire chief hopes to expand the program to all of the unincorporated areas.