New light fire engines join Cal Fire fleet

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SAN DIEGO - Reinforcement has arrived. Five brand-new fire vehicles will soon help Cal Fire crews quickly respond to fires and other emergencies, specifically in hard to reach areas in the backcountry of San Diego County.

Cal Fire Deputy Chief, Dave Nissen, said five patrols, or light fire engines, are new to the Cal Fire fleet.

While smaller and lighter in size, the fire vehicle can carry up to 200 gallons of water and help with transitional fighting. That includes arriving at brush fires and areas that are harder to reach for larger engines.

One of the portals made its first launch to the Wildcat Fire on the Barona Indian Reservation last week and Cal Fire was pleased with the results.

Deputy Chief Nissen also said after an assessment is done, locations are chosen where Cal Fire is not able to staff well.

The patrols will be deployed to station across the county, specifically those in the backcountry hit hard by the 2003 and 2007 wildfires like De Luz and Potrero.

Each fire vehicle costs about $250,000. A handful were funded by the Community Development Block Grants and one was funded by the county's general fund.

According to Nissen, there are seven light fire engines operating in San Diego County.

Three more patrols are on order and are expected to arrive in the fall.