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Cal Fire San Diego crews prep for busy wildfire season

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Posted at 4:19 PM, Jun 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-23 23:32:19-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Cal Fire San Diego crews conducted a prescribed burn off of Mccain Valley Road in Boulevard Thursday, not only clearing dry brush but providing critical training to fire crews.

“This was the third class that we've done in the last month. We're training up our firefighters, engineers, and captains to really be proficient about putting fire on the ground, these are the backfiring operations that a lot of time can help us in our firefight,” said Cal Fire Captain and public information officer Thomas Shoots.

Shoots says they're focusing on communication and different techniques for putting fire on the ground, valuable tools when it comes to battling and controlling wildfires.

“The last two weeks we've seen this ramp up into peak fire season, just fire after fire, we had the Border Fire last week which was over 500 acres, two other border fires this week, the Ramona fire which burned five acres,” he said.

Shoots said the U.S. Mexico Border in San Diego County has been an active area for several reasons, he says some fires in the rugged Otay mountains began as warming fires, or signals of distress, before getting out of hand.

“We're constantly working with border patrol out there, but the border is going to continue to be a dynamic area just because of the number of humans out there and the fuel loading there's plenty of grass and brush to burn,” said Shoots.

He said across the county, he expects fuel moisture levels to probably reach a critical point in the next six weeks or so but said crews are fully staffed and ready to respond to any fires.

“We're at peak staffing now so we have all of our engines, hand crews, dozers, and aircraft all staffed up,” said Shoots.

He said peak staffing takes them from 13 or 14 state engines in the wintertime, to 27 state engines now.

“All of our county rides are covered, and with that extra staffing comes the ability to staff up extra equipment as needed,” he said.

But fire crews still rely on the public to do their part.

“That fire in Ramona, off of Highland Valley Road, was a roadside start, started from a piece of a catalytic converter. So the public really can help us, maintaining your vehicle, not dragging any chains, really being smart any time you're using equipment outside,” he said.

And of course, have a plan and go bag ready in case a fire starts near your home.

“Be ready to go at a moment’s notice, that’s really going to help us. The sooner we could get you out, the sooner we could reengage in the firefight, and really get aggressive. We always talk about the fire safety and not setting fires, but being prepared for you and your family is going to help us as well,” said Shoots.