Fire season started early with the fires in May, and Cal Fire officials say just hasn’t stopped. “Ive never seen the drought this critical.” Cal Fire Battalion Chief John Francois of the Ramona Air Tac base says in his 33 fire seasons he’s never seen fire conditions so bad. “We get the Santa Anas every fall I mean that’s a normal weather pattern for us, but coupled with this drought it’s beyond what we’ve ever seen.” says Battalion Chief Francois.
Cal Fire crews have been busy all throughout the year. Cal Fire Captain Kendall Bortisser says the state agency hasn’t been able to scale back it’s fleet of resources. “Fire We’d like to have that downtime like everyone… but we’ve had to keep all of our stations staffed, hold on to all of our personnel 24/7 because of the severe drought we’ve had and the conditions we’ve had here in San Diego .”
Twenty six engine companies, eighteen stations, the air attack program and air tankers, are all fully staffed in the event of a wildfire.
“All the planes are staffed, we’re full of fuel and retardant and hopefully we’re not going to get called out today.” Said Battalion Chief Francois.
Despite their readiness, the extremely dry and windy conditions, coupled with fuel to burn Cal Fire says everyone needs to be vigilant. Ensure defensible space around homes, don’t use power tools that could spark a fire to remove brush, and no fire pit burning.
“I mean today is one of those days even with the humidity as low as it is, even that cigarette out the window of a car can start a fire with the really low single digit humidities. Just be very careful out there. “ said Battalion Chief Francois.