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Public Safety

San Diego County Fire Authority Looks Ahead To Summer Fire Season

A San Diego County Fire Authority truck parked in El Cajon, June 14, 2018.
Matt Hoffman
A San Diego County Fire Authority truck parked in El Cajon, June 14, 2018.

The San Diego County Fire Authority and Cal Fire San Diego say they are confident they have enough resources to prevent large scale fires this summer. But as more fires flare up throughout California, San Diego's local resources could be stretched.

"As we continue to get busier and other places have fires and we start sharing aircraft, I think that’s when we see some of these smaller fires that escape and become major fires," said San Diego County Fire Authority and Cal Fire San Diego Chief Tony Mecham.

RELATED: What You Need To Know In The Event Of A Wildfire In San Diego County

The San Diego County Fire Authority was created 10 years ago to help coordinate fire protection. Since then, the region has amassed a number of wildfire resources.

"It is the most anywhere in the country," Mecham said. "On any given day we have 42 engines staffed between Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service just for wildland firefighters."

Cal Fire said response times in rural parts of the county are currently averaging around 10 minutes.

"That 1.5 million acres that we protect is really hard to serve," Mecham said.

Part of that protection includes taking more preventative measures.

"I think that has to be our long term strategy," Mecham said. "What do we do with all this dead brush and trees that I’ve talked about. Do we just be reactive and wait for a fire to occur — or do we become proactive and talk about getting back to prescribed fire and getting back to doing fuel breaks?"

Prescribed burns, also known as controlled burns, are fires set intentionally by firefighters to reduce hazards like large amounts of dry brush. Fuel breaks are areas of land that have been cleared of trees or other vegetation to help stop or reduce the spread of fires.

San Diego County Fire Authority Looks Ahead To Summer Fire Season
The San Diego County Fire Authority and Cal Fire said they have enough resources to deal with major fires at this time but are expecting those resources to get stretched.