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Fire crews increase staffing during high winds

Posted at 11:43 AM, Oct 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-24 15:02:50-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Additional fire crews are positioned around the San Diego County Thursday, ready to get a jump on any fires that may spark under the fire weather conditions.

Since Wednesday, Cal Fire and the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department have both increased staffing. Crews will be on hand for at least the next 24 hours as strong Santa Ana winds move in.

"We have more resources than anywhere in the country to deal with these wildland fires," said Thomas Shoots with Cal Fire.

Cal Fire has added additional rigs to its fleet at its San Diego Unit Headquarters in El Cajon. Firefighters there are on standby, with some working as many as seven days.

Cal Fire has also brought in a third plane to help man the skies in case of a fire.

"We've brought in a contract plane, a large air tanker, that can drop 3,000 gallons of retardant on these fires," said Shoots.

San Diego Fire-Rescue has assembled a strike team staffed with firefighters and a strike team leader. This group is made up of five brush engines.

Two fire helicopters and water tenders are also on standby in case a fire breaks.

Cal Fire officials said compared to other areas around the state, things have been relatively calm in San Diego County, but that could change at any time.

"The number of fires [has] been down on the acreage; it's like at 10 percent of what it was last year at this time," said Shoots. "We're doing good, but we know these wildfires can take off."