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CAL FIRE San Diego shifts fuel reduction efforts to project homes

CAL FIRE/San Diego County Fire
Posted at 4:54 PM, Oct 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-16 20:01:52-04

EL CAJON, Calif. (KGTV) — San Diego County remains in elevation fire danger Saturday due to Santa Ana winds.

Instead of waiting to respond to a fire, CAL FIRE/San Diego County Fire is working to reduce fuels in wildfire-prone areas.

“There’s not really a community out in our back country area that’s not at risk," said Fire Captain Thomas Shoots.

Shoots says the department is taking advantage of the so far calm season to focus on their ongoing fuel reduction projects.

On Friday, crews completed a fuel break in Boulevard called Tierra Del Sol using equipment like a chipper to cut down flammable vegetation, which can help to lessen the intensity of a fire.

“Fire will still spread through the chips but we’re talking about a low-lying fire versus a raging inferno coming towards you."

As of lately, Capt. Shoots says they have been shifting their focus away from fuel breaks as fires become more intense like those raging in Northern California.

“We know these fires can spot over these fuel breaks if they build up enough momentum."

Why do Santa Ana winds form?
Santa Ana winds generally form as winds from the Great Basin moves into Southern California, compressing air and heating it up as it moves faster through ridges and canyons out west.

They are now working more with private property owners to reduce vegetation near homes.

“Right now that really means creating a buffer that’s closer to homes, closer to structures, give us a chance to try to save lives, safe those structures and time for people to get out."

Residents can also do their part when it comes to wildfire mitigation by maintaining vegetation around their property.

Capt. Shoots says it could help save someone's life and their neighbors’ lives.

“You may be that key component to keeping your neighbor from escaping if your place is overgrown," said Captain Shoots.

Because of Santa Ana winds, the department has brought in extra staff for this weekend.

The fire captain says they will remain at peak staff through the holidays.