1. Education

Tragic and Destructive North American Wildfires - 1950 to Present

By

9 of 10

Laguna Fire Disaster - Cleveland National Forest, California - September, 1970
Tragic and Destructive North American Wildfires - 1950 to Present

San Diego County Fires

NASA Photos
The Laguna fire or Kitchen Creek fire ignited on September 26, 1970 when downed power lines sparked fire fueled by Santa Ana winds and chaparral. The Laguna disaster started in eastern San Diego County in the Kitchen Creek area near the Cleveland National Forest. More than 75% of the vegetation in that forest was chaparral, coastal sage scrub, chemise, manzanita and ceonothus - very flamable fuel when dry.

The Laguna Fire held the infamous title of worst fire disaster in California history for 33 years until The Cedar Fire destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres and killed 14 people. They both occurred in approximately the same area, an area which has been noted as having firestorms nearly every decade. The Laguna fire disaster then became known as the second-largest fire in California history burning 175,000 acres and 382 homes killing eight people.

In only 24 hours the Laguna firestorm burned and was carried by westward blowing Santa Ana winds for about 30 miles to the outskirts of El Cajon and Spring Valley. The fire totally destroyed the communities of Harbison Canyon and Crest.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.