SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Tuesday, firefighters took advantage of the cooler weather from the storms, spending the day doing controlled burns. Setting these fires helps to keep neighboring communities safe from the next big wildfire.
"If we weren't coming in and doing this, there would be standing brush all the way up to the homes," shares Fuel Battalion Chief Jaimie Rickard.
In Pine Valley, field crews and engines torched piles of treated brush that have been cut and made into piles by the Cleveland National Forest Service.
"We come back in in the winter months when we have rain and snow and can burn them without them being a hazard to the homes and we can control them better," explains Rickard.
With drip torches, lighter crews are able to burn roughly 86 acres. The boots on the ground say that after December's storms, their opportunities to do their critical work have been fewer. Rickard shares that it's largely due to the drier, hotter weather that San Diego County and surrounding areas have been experiencing throughout the winter.
"Our opportunities to do this, are a lot fewer," says Rickard. "So to take advantage of the rain coming in and the snow, we can get as many piles burned as we can, and too much cold wet weather will shut us down as well as the piles won't burn so we just have to find that perfect window."
Tuesday, that window presented itself.
The Cleveland National Forest Service conducted 4 burns across San Diego and Orange counties on Tuesday. They worked to cut down any potential brush that could otherwise grow out of control.
"It's really our only defense nowadays against the wildfires and how they have been," explains Rickard. "We can't wait until fire season and then try to come in and put it out, the fires are just getting too big."
This is why crews worked quickly Tuesday. "It's our way of getting ahead of the curve," shares Rickard.
Crews worked against the cold rain and wind to make sure that their piles are ready. "Before fire season is here," explained Rickards
Crews say they will continue the controlled burns once the snow from this week's storm melts.