Wildfire Rebuilding Information


If your property was damaged in any of the wildfires, please do not be concerned - the County will help you rebuild. When you are ready to begin the rebuilding process, please bring some documentation that shows that the damaged structures were impacted by the wildfires when you visit the Department offices.  This can be your insurance claim, or any supporting documents that show that the structure you propose to rebuild was damaged by the wildfires.

If you are a fire victim and you have questions, please do not hesitate to call the Building Division Wildfire Hotline at (858) 694-3876.



The CedarParadiseOtay and Roblar Fires, commonly referred to as the October Wildfires, began on Saturday, October 25, 2003 and was fully contained and controlled on Friday, December 5, 2003.  During that period of time, the October Wildfires became one of the most destructive fire events ever to occur in California with 392,161 acres burned and a total of 5,114 structures destroyed, including 2,684 residential dwellings and 23 commercial structures countywide.  Within the unincorporated area alone, 335,275 acres burned and a total of 2,137 residential dwellings and 22 commercial structures were destroyed.

Again on October 22nd, 2007 in hot and windy conditions following a year of drought, several wildfires broke out across San Diego county.  The HarrisWitchRicePoomacha and Horno fires were the major fire events.  Damage from these events was on only a little less extensive that the Cedar, Paradise, Otay and Roblar fires of 2003.

In May of 2014 several wildfires broke out during Santa Ana conditions on the week of the 13th.  Victims who have suffered losses in any of these fires will be helped through the rebuilding process by the County.


In an effort to clarify the permitting procedures and ensure a speedy review of building plans, the County has developed the following guidance documents to help fire victims maneuver through the process.

In addition to these helpful documents, the County has also changed the permitting process in an effort to reduce the amount of time spent at the building counter.

  • The Building Plan Pre-Review Group was created to review plans for zoning compliance BEFORE you submit a building application.  The group is available for both fire victims and walk-ins.
  • The Residential Plan Submittal Worksheet for Fire Victims (available when check in at the kiosk) is a process designed to identify significant issues involving septic (Department of Environmental Health), roads/floodways (Department of Public Works), and permitted uses (Planning & Development Services) BEFORE you submit plans for processing.  This process is currently only available to fire victims.
  • On October 24, 2007, the Board of Supervisors formally declared the area damaged by the October Wildfires eligible for building plan check and permit fee waivers.  Please refer to Answers to Commonly Asked Questions for more information on fee waivers.  On May 20th, 2014 the Board hearing agenda will include a resolution declaring the rebuild of structures in the unincorporated areas damaged or destroyed in the Santa Ana wildfires the week of May 13th, 2014 to also be eligible for permit fee waivers.
  • All victims receive priority standing at the front counter and during plan checks.


During the October 2003 and 2007 Firestorms, it became painfully evident that there was insufficient "Defensible Space" on many properties.  This contributed to destroyed homes and other structures.  The County has provided information and resources that will enable you to improve the defensible space on your property.