California Wildfires Fuel, Choke Work

Crews work to repair power lines on Tuesday damaged by wildfires in Malibu, Calif. i i

Crews work to repair power lines on Tuesday damaged by wildfires in Malibu, Calif. Field personnel are working long hours to repair extensive damage caused by the fires. Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty hide caption

itoggle caption Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty
Crews work to repair power lines on Tuesday damaged by wildfires in Malibu, Calif.

Crews work to repair power lines on Tuesday damaged by wildfires in Malibu, Calif. Field personnel are working long hours to repair extensive damage caused by the fires.

Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty

The fires in San Diego have both fueled and choked-off businesses in the region.

Firefighters, public safety officers and rescue workers are busier than ever on Wednesday, as the wildfires demand their constant attention.

But the fires are also keeping businesses from opening.

San Diego Gas & Electric spokeswoman Rachael Laing says her company is an example of the contrast. Hundreds of office workers are being told to stay home, but others are working overtime.

"Every single field personnel that we have is out there right now — every single one," she said. "So, they're working in shifts, and they're going to be as long as this thing is on."

Many Workers Stay Home

At one point, more than 500,000 people were under evacuation orders. That prompted many large companies to tell their workers to put their families first.

Qualcomm, PETCO and Jack in the Box — along with many of the region's major employers — all paired down their staffs.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders urged locals to stay out of the way.

"Please, stay home today if you can. Stay off the freeways. Allow our emergency vehicles and people needing to evacuate to move around freely, and, please, stay off your cell phones," he said.

The financial damage will be significant, but if the wildfires that devastated the region four years ago are any indication, these blazes could help kick start the local economy.

A post-fire construction boom could bring back thousands of construction jobs that the region has recently lost.

Erik Anderson reports from member station KPBS.

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