Cocos Fire After Action Report:
What a great meeting with Fire Captain Wiberg this morning, and what a great group of volunteers San Marcos has in the CERT team.
TL;DR: Fuel moisture is at October levels, in May. There will be more road closures with future fires. If you have medications, keep some off-site from home. Have pet supplies ready, as well as 72 hour kits for the family.
An unprecedented chain of events cascaded leading us into Wednesday the 14th. Multiple fires throughout San Diego County had our fire dept helping through mutual aid. Leaving 20% of our resources in town. The first fire was a tree on Washingtonia, that was quickly knocked out by a two engine crew.
No sooner than that small incident had been contained, fire erupted behind CSUSM and Village/Twin Oaks. The entire city had four engines to attack what was the beginnings of a massive brush fire. (Which is why the road closure area was so large: no one to stop the wind driven fire if it reached a catastrophic level.) They jumped on the road, and started structure protection along Discovery. The Santa Ana winds were pushing the fire right into them, and not one home was damaged thanks to a turn in the weather. An onshore wind started, helping burn the fire back onto itself.
However, embers jumped Twin Oaks to the east, and led to a national story as Coronado Hills lit up like a tiki torch. Only three homes were lost in the city, a combination of topography (chute/peninsula combo) and defensible space. Our crews battled non stop for almost 72 hours, with the help of regional crews from all over SoCal.
Official word on the DC10: it was too close to an inspection. CalFire and CA have a more restrictive maintenance schedules for their aircraft than federal standards. While the plane was FAA legal to fly, CalFire is unwavering in their schedule.
Air support was a major help, especially when the fire turned from wind to topography driven, keeping the front moving away from San Marcos.
The fire dept is humbled by the outpouring of community support, and politely requests that perishable donations come to an end. They heartily thank the city for coming together, this was a team effort.
Stay sharp, this year has the makings of another fire storm season. With everyone’s help keeping defensible space clear and reporting fires, we will help effect a better outcome with fewer homes lost.