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Local fire authorities say they are ready to respond to ‘unprecedented’ wildfire crisis



Local and state authorities say they are prepared to respond quickly to wildfires in San Diego County at a time when months of unusually warm weather and record-dry vegetation have boosted the potential for intense and fast-moving flames.

“We are facing an unprecedented wildfire crisis across California and the Western United States,” Cal Fire San Diego Unit Chief Tony Mecham said at a Friday morning news conference at Gillespie Field in El Cajon. “Although last year was a bad year, this year is already shaping up to be worse.”

Authorities have increased staff by adding one more firefighter at three remote stations within the San Diego County Fire Protection District, hiring a wildfire analyst to help forecast fire risk and staffing fire crews — that cut lines around the fires to keep them from spreading — with locally-stationed firefighters from Cal Fire, the California National Guard and the California Conservation Corps.


Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher, who is also president of the county Fire Protection District, said San Diego County has invested nearly $575 million toward expanding fire readiness since 2003. That doesn’t include another $2.5 million that the board voted this week to spend on roadside vegetation management.

“If there’s one we thing we collectively want you to take away from today, it is that San Diego County is prepared and ready to respond to wildfires,” Fletcher said. READ MORE