They Could Save Homes, Lives, We Can't Afford Them

Supervisor Bill Horn said Thursday the county may not be able to afford to lease the three firefighting airplanes that were credited with helping put out several fires during last year's wildfire season, according to our media partner the North County Times.

The planes, which cost $3 million to lease, responded to more than 30 fires, Horn said in a wide-ranging State of North County address. In October, the planes helped put out the Juliet fire that burned about 4,000 acres on Camp Pendleton and threatened several hundred homes in Oceanside.

"I don't know if we can afford them this year, but last year they were a tremendous asset," Horn said in notes of the speech provided to the North County Times by the supervisor's office.

After the speech, Horn said in an phone interview that it would be up to the Board of Supervisors to decide if the planes can be leased again. But the county's tight budget situation because of a sour economy "could definitely make it difficult."

Last year, supervisors used money from the county's general fund to pay for the firefighting planes.

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