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CALFIRE prepared for 'near critical' fire conditions through Saturday

Firefighters observe the Creek Fire from their firetruck in Fallbrook, Dec. 24, 2020.
Jacob Aere
Firefighters observe the Creek Fire from their firetruck in Fallbrook, Dec. 24, 2020.

The fall season means peak fire season in San Diego. Some of the most devastating fires in San Diego and California history took place in October, the Cedar Fire in 2003 and the Witch Fire in 2007.

“We prepare for the worst, we hope for the best," said CALFIRE San Diego Fire Captain Frank LoCoco said, "but we’re ready to go if we do get dispatched to a fire and we’ll attack it aggressively.”

CALFIRE prepared for 'near critical' fire conditions through Saturday
Listen to this story by Melissa Mae.

LoCoco described the “near critical” wildfire conditions the county will face through Saturday. “We’re not quite at a red flag or significant Santa Ana winds, but we are expecting to see a warm up over the next couple of days with some off shore winds and typically those coincide with elevated fire danger.”

According to the National Weather Service, winds are expected to peak late Friday morning with gusts between 30 to 40 miles per hour.

“They affect fire behavior in multiple different ways, but they also affect our ability to fight the fire by taking some of our tools away,” LoCoco said.

One of those tools is CALFIRE’s aircraft support. Aircraft are grounded with winds above 30 mph.

“One, it’s pilot safety and two, it really renders the drops, especially the retardant drops out of our fixed wing aircraft, it renders them useless because it mists before it hits the ground,” LoCoco noted.

Crews from San Diego are currently helping fight the Alisal Fire in Santa Barbara county.

“Currently, we have 10 fire engines and two hand crews up at the fire in Santa Barbara,” LoCoco went on to say, “We’re a statewide fire agency, so if there’s a need, we’re going to respond to it.”

CAL FIRE Ready for "Near Critical" Fire Conditions

LoCoco said even with crews dispatched elsewhere, CALFIRE San Diego is prepared for fires here.

“We’re cognizant of the different areas throughout the county, different topographies, different plant life, different types of infrastructure issues,” LoCoco said. “We really preplan all of our areas that we respond to, so that in the event we are dispatched to a fire, we’re adequately prepared.”