Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008 | Will Carless, thank you for your article about CalFire now allowing night flying and responding to the reader’s point that the system failed.

The great losses were not suffered because of too few night fire drops.  The fires were just too big — we have been in a drought for several years, with just enough rain to grow vegetation that dries out and burns.  By comparison, there were 3,000 homes lost in the Oakland fire.  

Second, what’s continually overlooked is that San Diego County is the only county in California that has no fire department.  It is also among the largest counties in the state, with nearly 4,000 square miles of terrain, most of it perfect for wildfires.  The Los Angeles County Fire Department is responsible for about 2,200 square miles of land.  It has at least seven helicopters, all much, much larger than the helicopter the city of San Diego owns.

San Diego County is lucky that CalFire essentially serves as our fire department; and all the tax payers of California pay us.  Also, San Diego County enjoys the benefits of the Mutual Aid Pact among all fire departments within California.  We receive the benefit of other departments fighting fires in San Diego, yet San Diego County sends no units to other cities or counties — because it has none! 

At the hearings she held after last fall’s fires, Sen. Dianne Feinstein told county leaders that they were jeopardizing the property and lives of those who had elected them by not establishing an effective countywide firefighting force.  

Since county officials keep ignoring her warning, they are precisely to whom citizens should direct their attention and pressure, to prepare for the future safety of the county.

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