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San Diego Firestorm 2003

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As far as I know:

Fire started when a Hunter lit a signal fire so that his buddies could find him. This was in the back woods area of Ramona, from there the Santa Ana (50 MPH winds + ) pushed the fire all across the back country into various residential areas of San Diego County.

No fire apparatus was deployed, the dump planes were locked down at Pt. Magu - environmental concerns and government red tape and safety issues. It is one of those Grey Areas, Grey Davis type Grey areas. Immediate air tankers could have adverted much of the disaster. Planes should start appearing to day, yesterday a few helicopters showed up with those thimble sized dump buckets. This situation has left many with a very angry outlook towards the current fire protection system.

Recent count estimates about 900 homes and 14 lives were lost. Being in the industry which is already heavily loaded with new construction and additions, I can only wonder at what the typical process of construction will bear upon these new homeless victims. The local AIA should push for a streamlined process of plan approval so that the contractors can get to work re-building the loss. Currently it can take 3 months to get the plans approved, that would be a tough situation for a family of four living in their camper or hotel room.

Perhaps if everyone at the Archi-Talk donate a home design to help streamline the process of pre-design, allowing the clients to choose a new home for their charred site. The documentation would need to be fine tuned to take into account the local building ordinances. Perhaps GraphiSoft can help organize such an effort. I am sure it would be appreciated and the P.R. for Graphisoft could not hurt.

In the past my efforts to get you all to pitch in to create donations for the Habitat for Humanity was met with great success, perhaps this is another chance for the group to shine.

This is just a concept and I welcome any experienced input.


Mark Burginger


ArchiCAD 8.0 R3 Windows 2000 SP3
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I hope you're not in any danger, Mark. Are you?
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No, I am not in any danger. I am just like every one else in S.D. - very sad.

Karl Ottenstein
Glad you're OK, Willlllburrrr, umm, Mark. How's Mr. Ed doing? (Love your Avatar. You know, I had no memory that Wilbur was an architect until watching Mr Ed reruns the other week.)

Hope things get under control out there,
One of the forum moderators
AC 27 USA and earlier   •   macOS Ventura 13.6.3, MacBook Pro M2 Max 12CPU/30GPU cores, 32GB
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Ok, I'll do it. But no wood frame.
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If anyone is interested, the web site for Scripps Ranch is very eye opening. Go to and there are lots of images on their web site.

We are a little closer to the fire here in Carmel Mountain Ranch but still about 3 miles away. Sure seemed closer on Sunday night as we watched the fire crest a nearby hill and move quickly towards us. I heard that it was moving at 6,000 acres per hour (or was it per minute).
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Based on our experiences after the 1991 Oakland Hills firestorm in northern California, one of the best things the local governments can do is set up streamlined permit approval centers. The local builders and architects can also mobilize to provide advice and support. Most of the people who lost their homes are unfamiliar with the planning and building processes, as well as grieving for lost homes, possessions and pets. It's a very traumatic situation, and the start of a long rebuilding process. My heart goes out to everyone who has suffered from these huge fires.
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One year ago today San Diego was in a panic. Today the skys are overcast with sprinkles. It is cool and refreshing, wow what a difference.

However many of the home owners who lost their homes are still hot under the collar. Can you believe it? Less that 8% of the homes have been rebuilt... see article:

As for myself, I was involved with only one home. It was a 1,000 s.f. rental, the renters have moved on to another home. The landlord/owner gave me the nod to do the plans after he received a check from his insurance agency (that took 6 months) and I finished them May,04. Five months later the trusses have not been put up, the truss yard is typically 6 weeks out. At least they have a contractor who is doing what he can to meet some type of schedule. Picture attached - Sigh

Anxious to do another?, no - the emotions are running too high. The insurance companies are not paying adequate amounts to cover construction and professional fees. The cost of conc. and lumber has risen, good contractors are hard to find and professionals keep plenty busy with the ongoing construction boom. I personally do not see where a whole lot will change over the next year.

Mark Burginger

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