Fire danger crying out for attention


The editors of the La Jolla Light recently met with officials of San Diego Fire and Rescue to ask about disaster planning and fire risk in La Jolla.

The bottom line: La Jolla faces real danger from wildfire.

How will it strike?

Deputy Fire Chief Brian Fennessy pointed to I-5 as the likely starting point. He said that a brush fire started along I-5 in the right conditions could burn up and over Mt. Soledad, raining down hot embers that could start dozens of small fires all over La Jolla.

What are the conditions that would lead to such a fire here?

Winds of roughly 40 mph and humidity below 10 percent could easily turn a small I-5 brush fire into a monster that would reach the ocean within hours.

It would be catastrophic.

The deputy chief pointed to the Oakland Hills fire, which he helped fight, as an example of what he fears could happen here. In that fire, an ember from a small fire floated into a dry tree, which exploded in flames and started a general conflagration. Nearly 800 homes burned to the ground in the first hour, and more than 3,000 homes burned in all.

Memories of the deputy chief’s words were aroused when a brush fire started along I-5 last week.

There had been rain the week before, and winds were calm. But if the same fire starts on an October day with Santa Ana winds, La Jolla could ignite.

Why is the question of fire preparedness not on the agendas of local civic councils and organizations?

Are local organizations working with Fire and Rescue to ensure that neighborhoods are prepared for fire?

Why does La Jolla remain so obviously overgrown?

When will a serious discussion begin about how dangerous eucalyptus trees are?

When will the false sense that proximity to the ocean means protection from fire be punctured?

And, most importantly, will La Jolla get around to dealing with fire preparedness before it is too late?