San Diego Fire Chief: Fall wildfire season could be 'potentially dangerous'

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - This fall could bring dangerous wildfire conditions to San Diego and surrounding areas of the county, according to a report scheduled to be delivered Monday to the City Council's Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee.

In his presentation, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Chief Brian Fennessy notes that winter rains promoted more grass growth than usual throughout the city. That grass has since dried out, he said.

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The chief also said the long-range weather forecast calls for little to no rainfall.

"With the dry vegetation, high temperatures, low humidity and high easterly winds, the next three months could be very busy for all fire stations within the city and throughout the entire county," Fennessy wrote. "If the fires occurring in the north and central part of the state (are) any indicator of what is to come for San Diego, we could be in for an extremely active and potentially dangerous three months."

Through Sept. 10, Cal Fire has responded to more than 5,100 fires throughout the state this year, which have scorched over 229,000 acres. The five-year average for the same time period is almost 3,900 blazes and 156,000 acres, according to data from Cal Fire, which provides fire protection outside major cities.

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While the conditions for wildfires could be risky, the department is adequately staffed and equipped to respond to blazes that break out, Fennessy said. He said the SDFRD has a dozen brush engines, two water-dropping helicopters and access to the San Diego Gas & Electric heli-tanker.

City crews have also been inspecting properties along canyon rims for overgrown brush, he said.

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