Fire Report Outlines San Diego's Weaknesses During Wildfire

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- A new report found that San Diego firefighters were short on staff, fire engines, safety gear, training and coordination as they tried to fight the devastating Cedar Fire that killed 15 people last fall.

The flaws, and the steps that fire officials have taken to repair them, were listed in a Cedar Fire After Action Report slated for release Tuesday by San Diego City Councilman Brian Maienschein, whose district includes Scripps Ranch, the San Diego neighborhood hardest hit by the fire last October.

The fire didn't kill anyone within the city limits, but nearly 29,000 acres were burned, 321 homes destroyed and 69 damaged in Scripps Ranch and Tierrasanta. The fire blackened 273,246 acres and destroyed 2,232 homes overall.

The report, produced by the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, is the latest to examine what went wrong during the October firestorms. A state blue-ribbon commission issued a report in March on responses and ideas for improvement.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection also issued a report on the fires, as did the U.S. Forest Service.

Among the findings in the city's report were that staffing and training were inadequate among incident-support team, there was a shortage of reserve fire engines and trucks, and much of the fleet was outdated.

Also, firefighters didn't have enough personal protective equipment, the Department Operations Center didn't have enough space, resources or security, and there was also inadequate coordination at the local and regional level, the report said.

The report said the fire department has bought or ordered equipment including fire engines, emergency fire shelters, and hose packs. Firefighters have also added more fully equipped reserve fire engines, and are being given more training in wildland firefighting and major disasters.

The department is also installing special software that calculates how fast a fire will spread, and has begun developing plans for handling future fires.