8th Anniversary of 2007 Firestorm: Historic Loss

Nearly 500,000 were evacuated in 2007 Firestorm

Two wildfires that ravaged San Diego County are among the top 10 largest loss fires in U.S. history.

Eight years ago this week, a half-million San Diego County residents evacuated their homes in a series of wildffires that eventually scorched more than 350,000 acres.

Santa Ana winds and dry conditions fueled fires that burned into early November 2007. Many will remember the first three days of the firestorm as flames swept the county and took the heaviest toll.

National Fire Protection Association Statistics show the 2007 fires are second when it comes to losses with a total of $1.8 billion at the time. The Cedar Fire of 2003, considered to be more devastating, cost $1.1 billion at the time.

The Harris Fire was first reported at 9:30 a.m. on October 21, 2007. Forty miles north of that, the Witch Fire broke out at 12:30 p.m. east of Ramona. Winds in the area were clocked at 90 miles an hour.

By the next day, firefighters were faced with new fires in other parts of the county while the Witch Fire jumped Interstate 15 and was burning in Poway.

In the final overview of the 2007 Firestorm, officials determined that 17 people died in the event. Ten were killed by the fires, three were killed while evacuating and four died from other fire-related causes.

The Witch Fire was the second biggest ever in the county, exceeded only by the Cedar Fire in 2003, which is the biggest fire in California's history. Rancho Bernardo was hit particularly hard, with 365 homes destroyed.
At one point during the firestorm, nearly 500,000 residents were under mandatory orders to evacuate.

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