San Diego

Seamless Communication Helps County Fire Agencies Fight Fires As One

Eight different fire departments responded to the Vista Fire that sparked Thursday in Dehesa underscoring the strong, coordinated effort among San Diego County fire fighting agencies.

“There’s no longer communication issues which we have come across in the past. We don’t have boundaries for these agencies,” said Captain Thomas Shoots, a public information officer for Cal Fire.

Cpt. Shoots says the agencies that responded in Dehesa on July 17 included the US Forest Service, San Miguel Fire Protection District, Viejas Fire, Sycuan Fire, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, SDG&E, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the CHP.

Five days earlier, eight fire departments responded to the “Border Fire” that started in Mexico and burned into Dulzura. Those agencies included the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife, Sycuan Fire, Viejas Fire, SDG&E, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the CHP.

“Our Emergency Command Center is able to find the closest resources in the area of the fire and tap those resources, so whether it’s a Cal Fire engine, a U.S. Forest Engine, a city engine, or tribal, we're able to utilize those folks,” said Cpt. Shoots.

A similar display of cooperation was apparent for a fire on Tuesday in Sabre Springs.

According to a San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokesperson, SDFD, Poway Fire, Rancho Santa Fe, Santee Fire and Cal Fire responded. That fire burned an acre and was out in less than a half hour.

Meanwhile, the firefighting skies in San Diego County are about to get more crowded.

On Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors will vote to approve a contract to lease a second SDG&E helicopter – a converted UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter.

The county will vote on a lease agreement similar to the current agreement with SDG&E’s so-called Air Crane Helicopter. Under the arrangement, SDG&E will cover the costs to operate the helicopter during the first two flight hours of any new fire, and the county will cover the second two flight hours.

Further, during red flag events, one of the helicopters will be pre-positioned in North County, in accordance with the needs determined by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) Fire Chief, according to a memo from Supervisor Jim Desmond’s office.

In August, a converted C130 owned by Cal Fire will arrive in Ramona.

That C130 will be operational, but will be here primarily to train crews. And then in 2021, two of the C130’s will be based in Ramona.

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