wildfire preparedness

They're Not Waiting for the Wildfire

Cal Fire and other agencies continue wildfire prevention

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Knock on wood.

With more than 300 fires burning across the state of California, San Diego County has been able to avoid a catastrophic wildfire during the past year. However, that doesn’t mean firefighters are sitting back and relaxing.

On Wednesday, more than a dozen Cal Fire firefighters spent the hot day clearing thick Arundo, a large invasive grass, from an area in Rancho San Diego. The bamboo-like plants blocked a drainage ditch, but they could be far more dangerous in hot conditions.

“With this wind and if this stuff were to catch on fire, I’m sure it would shoot embers that way,” said firefighter Carlos Iniguez, pointing toward a row of homes.

Several chainsaws chewed through the 30-foot-tall plants as firefighters piled up the remnants for removal.

“Those guys are out there working every day, punching away,” said Cal Fire Capt. Thomas Shoots. “When we’re not actively fighting fire, we’re still out there trying to make a difference.”

Shoots said Cal Fire is actively battling more than 300 fires across the state, adding that five local strike teams consisting of about a hundred San Diego-based personnel have deployed to help roughly 7,000 other firefighters.

"That’s a huge amount of resources, a huge amount of personnel," Shoots said. "We’re happy that nothing’s going crazy in San Diego."

Knock on wood.

If something crazy does start here, Shoots said, the deployed firefighters would have to assess where they are needed most; they would not automatically head back to San Diego.

In the meantime, crews like Iniguez’s are on standby. They would, however, immediately leave their brush-clearing assignment and head to a fire in a moment’s notice.

“I love fighting fire,” Iniguez said. “I love protecting the environment.”

Knock on wood.

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