Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood questions why more air support was not used in San Diego fires

OCEANSIDE, Calif. - Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood told Team 10 he believes homes that were lost could have been saved, and he questions why more air support wasn't available to fight nine fires burning in San Diego County Wednesday and Thursday, especially in San Marcos and Carlsbad.

"I think we had assets out there that could have been used," Wood said. "I'm sure all the people that lost homes will ask the question later, were there assets that could have saved my home."

His is the first openly critical assessment of the response effort since the nine fires erupted in the county.

Wood is running for county supervisor, and said his criticism is not a political statement. He said he truly believes more helicopters and planes could have been in the air fighting the fires.

"If I'm wrong I'll be the first person to apologize," Wood said.

Wood's main questions were about why the military could not provide more assistance. He said he called the governor's office, Camp Pendleton and Cal Fire. He said he was told the same thing by everyone: that every plane and helicopter that could help fight the fire was being used.

"My concern is I've got six helicopters over here at Camp Pendleton that could fly over here and save a lot of houses," Wood said. "The places I saw that needed the most help [were] Carlsbad and San Marcos, where you actually have buildings and structures being [burned] down."

Team 10 called Camp Pendleton and Cal Fire. Camp Pendleton officials said they were busy fighting the fire on its base.

Cal Fire said the U.S. Forest Service has a contract with the owner of the DC-10, and it's an exclusive contract that has the crew on for six days and off for one. The rest day is Thursday -- the same day more evacuations were called because of the growing Cocos Fire in San Marcos and Escondido.

Team 10 has calls and emails out to the U.S. Forest Service, but had not received return calls or emails by Thursday night.

Four helicopters, eight airplanes and 22 military aircraft were being used across the county as of Thursday night.

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