Public Safety

County Announces Initial Wildfire Costs to Local Agencies, Property Owners

The cost to local governments of responding to, fighting and recovering from last week’s disastrous wildfires is estimated at $27.9 million, the County of San Diego announced Friday. Private property owners suffered an additional estimated $29.8 million in losses.

County officials compiled and submitted the preliminary figures to the State of California this week as part of a disaster reimbursement process.

Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Dianne Jacob said she wanted to thank Gov. Jerry Brown for moving so swiftly last week to declare a state of emergency in the County of San Diego. On behalf of the region, the County has requested additional assistance from Gov. Brown to help reimburse local agencies for the emergency costs out of the California Disaster Assistance Act (CDAA). Money received from the state through CDAA will help affected governments in San Diego County to offset fire response and recovery costs.

“I am hopeful the governor will give this request careful consideration and approve the financial assistance to help cover the cost of these major wildfires,” Jacob said.

Many area agencies pitched in during last week’s state of emergency, even some that weren’t directly affected. They sent firefighters to the front lines, law enforcement personnel to assist with evacuations, public works crews to close roads and assess damage and employees to staff emergency operations centers around the clock.

The total initial estimated cost for local agencies to respond and recover is about $27.9 million.

The biggest costs were associated with responding to the Poinsettia Fire in Carlsbad. The City of Carlsbad estimates $12.5 million in costs to fight that fire, staff the City’s Emergency Operations Center and much more. The City estimates $8 million in costs to restore habitat and control erosion as a result of the fire.

Responding to and fighting the Cocos Fire cost the City of San Marcos an estimated $10.4 million. That includes $6.2 million in estimated firefighting-related costs and $2.5 million in costs to stabilize and control erosion of now barren hillsides near residential areas, storm drains, Discovery Lake and South Lake and other areas.

The County of San Diego estimates $3.2 million in preliminary costs related to multiple fires. That includes about $1.2 million in Sheriff’s-related expenses, including the cost of Sheriff’s deputies conducting evacuations, traffic control and other law enforcement services and the operation of firefighting and law enforcement helicopters through the Sheriff’s ASTREA (Air Support to Regional Enforcement Agencies) program. The Sheriff’s Department is contracted to provide law enforcement services to the City of San Marcos.

The City of San Diego’s preliminary cost is $1.3 million related to multiple fires.

These estimates are calculated by local agencies and do not include the cost of lost business due to the wildfires, or the costs to area school districts, for example.

When it came to private property, Carlsbad saw an estimated $12 million in losses. The following structures were destroyed: five homes, 18 apartment units and one commercial building. In addition, four homes and one commercial building sustained major damage and 22 residences sustained minor damage.

San Marcos estimated nearly $2.2 million in private property damage. The Cocos Fire was responsible for the destruction of five homes and minor damage at another five homes there.

Unincorporated County area saw an estimated $15.6 million in private property damage. A total of 34 homes, one business and 15 outbuildings were destroyed. Another two homes saw major damage and six outbuildings sustained minor damage. has more information on the recovery process. can help you prepare for emergencies.

Michele Clock is a group communications officer with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact