Rancho Bernardo Update – Photos Of Destruction

| October 27, 2007

A special thanks to reader Kevin Lee (who also works with me), who was kind enough to share a set of photos of the burn near his house. Early Monday Kevin and his wife were forced to evacuate the new home they purchased only a few months ago. When he left the winds were blowing strongly from the East / Northeast, driving the Witch Creek fire down the Lake Hodges Valley (aka The Funnel). As Kevin described it, the flames were racing across the hill behind his house, and he feared the worst was about to happen.

He was able to return Thursday to find his house still standing and intact. His photos show several interesting facts about this fire.


As we can see in this photo, the fire burned largely though the scrub on the sides of the hills. The fire crews were able to stop it before it reached the first rank of houses in 4S Ranch.


A key to success – these massive green water tanks up in the hills around San Diego. They are huge reservoirs of water that are there specifically to help fight fires. No matter what condition the local city water system is in, these gravity fed monsters can push thousands or millions of gallons of water through the hydrant system for fighting fires.


The firefighters did a heroic job, but sadly not all homes in this area could be saved. Here is a stark contrast between one family who lost everything, and another who was spared.


Another feature of San Diego back country – gated roads that serve no homes. They are fire roads that provide a natural break between the chaparral and developed areas. They also provide a route to move equipment to a fire area and a ready fire break to defend.


As mentioned earlier in the week, San Diego’s power grid has been under strain as fires cased many transmission and distribution lines to be shut down due to fire and wind. Here is a prime example of the kind of damage that took place.


Another example of the incredible effort put forth by firefighters – this burned right up to the edge of this structure and was stopped. During the time they saved this home the winds were howling from the Northeast at over 40 MPH.

I still think that we should have a party or parade to thank these people, who came from all over California and several western states to save us from these fires.

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Category: Main, Photography, SAN DIEGO EMERGENCIES, San Diego Fires

About the Author ()

Bruce Henderson is a former Marine who focuses custom data mining and visualization technologies on the economy and other disasters.

Comments (3)

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  1. lahgitana says:

    Yes, about the parade. I bet a bunch of us from out of the area would like to have you ridin’ in the fancy cars with the shiny chrome, honking your horns in glee.

    Oh, and we’d come to the parade, too!

    Have a party, too. Talk to each other. Don’t stop doing that. This is horribly unsettling for a community for a long time after the event passes.

    Very best to you.


    PS. My brother is one of the Ramonans! Now they get on the map!

  2. rabbitgal says:

    Yes, a HUGE parade for these selfless individuals. I had heard that some were even from volunteer fire departments, no PAY, away from home and families and jobs. Truly selfless.

    If there is some sort of nomination for “best of weblogs”, I think there are many of us who would like to nominate you all and this site.

    For those of us far away but still connected to the area, the pictures really help us see what happened. Thanks to Kevin. About 4S though, I had read it was one of those new communities with stringent guidelines, “shelter-in-place” kind of structures, etc. and homes in these areas (The Crosby, 4S, etall) survived the fires. Is this true? I would love to see the guidelines and restrictions. It may help those in other areas who might be able to make some changes in line with what these developments did.


  3. bhenderson says:

    Good comments, I will see about getting the 4S / Shelter – in – place guidelines to post here. I am also very curious about the specifics as well. Most of 4S was un-scathed, but many parts of Rancho Santa Fe burned.