Graphic collage of various scenes from the 2003 San Diego Wildfires
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Statewide Fire and Lightening Strike Summaries (Cal Fire, 2009)

(click on images to enlarge)


Every year California and other Western states are besieged by wildfires. A combination of factors create favorable fire conditions—accumulating fuel from 150 years of fire suppression policy and practices, weather conditions including global warming, an expanding urban/wildland interface, and human error. In anticipation of yet another challenging fire season in Californa, Governor Schwarzenegger issued an Executive Order on May 5, 2009, boosting the State's wildfire preparedness and resources.

During 2009, between January 1st and August 19th only, there were 5,384 wildfires, with 23 of these considered to be significant (see above wildfires map). The largest fires have been Jesusita Fire (Santa Barbara County), Backbone Fire (Trinity County), Knight Fire (Tuolumne County), La Brea Fire (Santa Barbara County), Lockheed Fire (Santa Cruz County), Hat Creek Complex Fire (Lassen and Shasta Counties), SHU Lightening Fire (Shasta County), and Corral Fire (Alameda County), Station Fire (Los Angeles County), Gloria Fire (San Benito County), and Guiberson Fire (Ventura County).

The cost of fighting wildfires continues to rise and poses a serious issue for California Here are numerical wildfire summaries for previous years since 2004:

California Fire Facts

2007 Fire Summary

2006 Fire Summary (2006 Fire Causes)

2005 Fire Summary

2004 Fire Suammry

20 Largest Fires By Acres Burned

20 Largest Fires Causing Structural Damage

Lightening Fires, 1984-2008


California Fire Background Information

Statewide Fire Plan

Fire and Emergency Response

Fire Terminology

How Fires Get Their Names


Photo by Spencr Wirner, May 8, 2009

Firefighting plane makes a drop on the Jesusita Santa Barbara fire

Photo by Robert Gauthier, May 9, 2009

Members of Vandenburg Wildcats Hot Shot Crew near  Jesusita Santa Barbara fire line

Photo by Anne Cusack, May 10, 2009 (Los Angeles Times)

Remnants of Jesusita Santa Barbara Fire from La Vista Road


San Diego County Fire Facts - - 2009


  • Willow Fire

Date Started: May 22, 2009

Date Ended: May 23, 2009

Acres Burned: 65

Location: see map


  • Pala Fire

Date Started: May 24, 2009

Date Ended: May 25, 2009

Acres Burned: 122

Location: see map


  • Haybarn Fire (Camp Pendleton Marine Base)

Date Started: June 16, 2009

Date Ended: June 17, 2009

Acres Burned: 102


Date Started: August 26/27, 2009

Date Ended: active

Acres Burned: 1,500



Cal Fire. (2007). Cal Fire Home. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Website. Retrieved August 14, 2009 from

Los Angeles Times. (2009). Los Angeles Tiems Website. Retrieved August 14, 2009 from

Photo Credits:

Cusack, A. (2009) Los Angeles Times. Retrieved Augusrt 14, 2009 from,0,5447522.photogallery

Gauthier, R. (2009). Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 14, 2009 from,0,5447522.photogallery

Wirner, S. (2009). Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 14, 2009 from,0,5447522.photogallery


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Copyright 2004 San Diego State University Foundation