Strength in Community

On December 7, 2017, a small brush fire, with the help of powerful Santa Ana winds, quickly became a much more serious threat. Just one week later, the Lilac Fire had burned over 4,000 acres, destroyed more than 150 structures, and threatened the communities of Bonsall, Oceanside, Vista, and Camp Pendleton. The incident ignited haunting memories of the 2003 Cedar Fire and the 2007 Witch Creek Fire for many North County San Diego residents. And with the massive Thomas Fire burning just north of San Diego in Ventura County, along with fires sweeping Northern California in October, the 2017 California wildfire season was one of the most destructive on record.

Fortunately, some important lessons were learned from past experiences. The region is now equipped with more fire engines, helicopters, and air tankers on the front lines; new technology that helps track hot spots and simulate dangerous weather conditions; and better communication and collaboration between city, county, state, and federal agencies. Yet, even with such improvements, fires in California are inevitable. United Way of San Diego County has partnered with United Way of Greater Los Angeles to set up the Southern California Wildfire Fund to help low-income victims. You can donate at To stay updated on local recovery efforts and develop a disaster preparedness plan for your family go to

“In the midst of such destruction, we are reminded how precious human relationships are.”

In the midst of such destruction, we are reminded how precious human relationships are. We thank the firefighters who risk their own lives to protect others, as well as all the volunteers who have donated their time and resources to help those in need. We will continue to draw strength from each other and build resiliency after all the flames are extinguished. There is great power in community, as we are privileged to know from experience.