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Extra firefighters on standby with increased wildfire risk

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department will have extra firefighters on hand Friday and over the weekend as a heat wave sends temperatures soaring, which could increase the risk for wildfires.

Five off-road capable brush engines, which can carry between 600 and 1,500 gallons of water, 20 engine crew members and an additional 3,000-gallon capacity water tender will be in rotation through Sunday, according to fire department spokeswoman Monica Munoz. The dispatch center and air operations section will also up their staff through the weekend.

"Increasing our staffing is something that we can do in an effort to respond quickly with additional resources to keep fires from threatening lives and property," San Diego Fire Chief Brian Fennessy said. "There are many things residents can do to prepare in advance for what we believe will be a very busy summer of fires."

A lengthy drought followed by heavy rains this past winter led to significant growth of grass and underbrush, which can fuel wildfires. More fuel, hot weather and low humidity can combine to create conditions where a fire can easily ignite and quickly burn, according to Munoz.