MESSAGE FROM OUR FIRE CHIEF
We survived a disaster. Let's prepare for the next!
The Incident our community faced Feb 10-13th is a strong reminder to us all that De Luz is an extremely high fire risk area. The 5,900 acre Firestorm that raced with that 80mph Santa Anna wind that day and destroyed 43 homes in Fallbrook and caused $16 million in damage made this the WORSE fire disaster since the October 1997 Harmony grove fire.
What can we learn from this? How can we prepare? First off, reporting the fire's location promptly and accurately was the key to the success we had with the 200 acre De Luz fire that started an hour after the Galavan fire. We initially had 3 fire engines and six firefighters down at the Sandia Creek bridge, plus two additional engines and ten personnel on stand-by at our station ready to roll when the call to move operations to American Road and De Luz CDF Station came. Our five fire engines and sixteen firefighters there made the difference. We lost no houses, saved three, and no one got injured. We contained it from jumping De Luz Rd and from reaching Daily Rd.
I can't emphasize how strongly opposed I have become of this matter after last week.
I am an avocado farmer; I realize the need to burn brush and tree limbs. I support the need to do so, but IT WILL BE DONE PROPERLY AND LEGALLY from now on, and I am going to be a hardliner on this. If you burn, you better have a permit. You better make the right pre-burn calls, and you better have the burn site properly set up and every ember out by 3 PM.
Illegal burns started these fires last week on two groves that rekindled by the high winds. In the past I have merely warned or advised people against doing illegal burns. I would not cite or call in to the CDF or Sheriff. From this day on, it will be different!
As of last week, the Sheriff's are now arresting, CDF is fining ($2,500+), and I and our 20 Volunteers and 9 Fire spotters will be watching. I, like the rest of you, have worked hard for our homes and the lifestyle we have created. My neighbors and I are not going to end up like those poor 43 families of Santa Margarita Drive.
Of the 34 fires that our Volunteers fought since our formation in 1997, 25 were due to illegal burns that went into the brush and gone out of control. I'm fed up with it, and my firefighters are fed up with it. We risk our lives for stupidity!
What else did we learn and how can we prepare? Our next Newsletter will include a Home Wildfire Prep Checklist. This will also be posted on this website so it may be printed at home. These 20 or so tips you can do to save your home 15-30 minutes before the fire hits really work well. Keep it handy.
Last week was the first fire we had in twelve months in De Luz. In the 11 years I've lived out here I cannot remember such a good record. Let us ALL pitch-in and try to out do this one.View Galavan-De Luz Fire AFTACT Timeline
Contact me by email or phone if you need or have advice. 760- 728-3300
Chief, De Luz VFD