Chargers’ Stadium Shelters Thousands from Fire Siege – A Commander’s View

In late October 2007, Southern California experienced an unusually severe fire weather event characterized by intense, dry, gusty Santa Ana winds. This weather event drove a series of destructive wildfires that took a devastating toll on people, property, natural resources, and infrastructure. During this siege, 17 people lost their lives, 10 were killed by the fires outright, three were killed while evacuating, and 140 firefighters and an unknown number of civilians were injured. A total of 3,069 homes and other buildings were destroyed, and hundreds more were damaged.

From the after action report: “By dawn of October 22, barely one day into the siege, new fires had ignited in Fallbrook, San Marcos and near the San Diego Wild Animal Park. Twenty thousand homes were without power. Qualcomm Stadium had opened as an evacuation center, and officials there were preparing for as many as 100,000 evacuees. By noon, October 22, the Witch Fire had jumped Interstate-15 and was burning in Poway. San Diego businesses, government offices, and schools began closing.”


More than 350,000 households were evacuated at the height of the siege, meaning the evacuation could have included more than 900,000 people. Bob Kanaski was put in charge of the evacuation center at Qualcomm Stadium, home of the NFL’s San Diego Chargers. It was a brilliant move but not without its many challenges. Mr. Kanaski talks about those and how he and his team were able to meet them head-on and win.


State Hazard Mitigation Plan

California Fire Siege 2007: An Overview

San Diego County OES

Alert San Diego

Featured Image: Nick Carlson

Shawn Boyd

Shawn Boyd joined Cal OES as a public information officer in 2014 after a 20-year career in television news as a reporter, anchor and executive producer. He's a Cal State Sacramento alum and former US Navy yeoman and Air Force brat.

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