Ten Years Ago the ‘OB Rag’ Started Under Fire

by on October 18, 2017 · 5 comments

in Ocean Beach

It was ten years ago this month that the online version of the OB Rag was launched into the ether of the internet. We began publishing October 26-27, 2007 – and we began under fire.

10 years ago a massive fire raged across San Diego County from October 19th through the 27th. Over 346,890 acres were burned, over 1,588 residences were destroyed and there were 7 civilian fatalities.

It resulted in one of the largest mass evacuations in California history – and certainly the largest in Southern California – where 640,000 residents were evacuated.

So, many of our first articles concerned the fires. We reported:

On the “mandatory evacuations” ordered by the authorities during the Fire Storms …. Last count, there were 560,000 residents ordered to evacuate their communities since last Sunday, October 21st … There have been additional evacuations ordered … as fires continue to burn in parts of the county as of late Thursday, the fifth day of the fires. … The magnitude of the mass movement of people across this county in the last few days is unprecedented.

Even sections of the coastal towns of Solana Beach and Del Mar were ordered to be evacuated.

Communities from Ramona to the coast were ordered to be de-populated this week as the Witch Creek fire roared west.

An instant community was born “at Qualcomm Stadium as up to 12,000 people congregated out of the path of the ferocious flames.”

The folks camping out at Qualcomm “weren’t allowed by the Chargers to pitch tents on the greens,” and were given an order to “evacuate by noon Friday, the 26th, an order by Mayor Jerry Sanders to allow the football team to play on Sunday, one week exactly after the start of the fires. This will bring normalcy back to the community, we are told.”

In our first posts, we questioned the scope of the mandatory evacuations and we asked, We Have to Keep Asking: Why Did It Take So Long for the Military Aircraft to Get Up in the Air and Fight the Fires? Oct. 27, 2007

Here’s more stats from that fire:

San Diego County officials have released the latest numbers related to the wildfires.

As of October 27, 2007, the total acreage burned was 346,890 and firefighting costs stood at $31.1 million.

Residences destroyed — 1,588
Residences damaged — 320
Commercial properties destroyed — 2
Commercial properties damaged — 0
Outbuildings damaged — 720
Outbuildings destroyed — 25
Evacuated residences — 640,000
Firefighters injured — 93
Civilians injured — 23
Civilian fatalities — 7
Total firefighters assigned — 8,324


Editordude: To celebrate these 10 years and to say “Thanks Ocean Beach”, the OB Rag is hosting a Halloween costume party on October 28th. Please see this.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave October 18, 2017 at 9:52 pm

10 years ago I’d recently moved back east after a year living down on Abbott – the housing market was crashing and I couldn’t sell the place I’d bought primarily to please my ex, figured I might as well stop wasting mortgage money on a vacant house. We got evacuated, accidentally (sheriff’s deputies kicked people out of houses near Willow Glen Road in El Cajon, while people in legitimate danger near Willow Road in Alpine were left largely without warning). My best friend Robby (RIP) lost his home in Dulzura, along with his pet cow Dinner.

Rapidly disillusioned and not wanting my daughter to grow up learning the prejudices as a kid that it took years for me to unlearn, I started looking at a way to move back out to OB and found the Rag. The rest, as they say, is history.

Congrats on 10 Frank, Patty, and crew!


Catsmom October 19, 2017 at 6:50 pm
Frank Gormlie October 19, 2017 at 7:52 pm

The writer, Austin Hong, of the article that your link is to, make the incredulous statement: “Critics claim that vacation rentals are worsening the housing crisis, but there’s no evidence to support that claim.”

BTW, did you mean to leave this comment at another article?


Anna Daniels October 20, 2017 at 1:52 pm

If memory serves me, writer Mike Davis led a discussion in City Heights about the official response to the fires. That is where and when I re-established an old friendship with Frank Gormlie and met his partner Patty Jones. Frank invited me to write for OBRag, which I did.
Here’s to the 10 year anniversary of OBRag, forged in fire, tempered by time.


Frank Gormlie October 23, 2017 at 10:43 am

It was so good running into you guys at that forum with Mike Davis. At first I couldn’t believe my eyes – it had been so long.


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