Ramona air attack base preps for potential wildfires

RAMONA (KUSI) – Dry and windy conditions are expected to stay in San Diego County until at least mid-week, and Cal Fire crews are urging the public to remain on alert regardless of any rain that may have fell this weekend.

“What happened yesterday, was yesterday and obviously today is a completely different animal,” said Cal Fire Captain Isaac Sanchez. “The wind is a big driving factor, drying out the vegetation and leading to these critical conditions.”

As the Silverado Fire devastates portions of Orange County, the Ramona Air Attack Base plays a critical role in the coordination of resources.

“The message is we are constantly prepared. We’ve known that this event was coming and we’ve been on standby ready to respond at a moments notice,” Sanchez said.

Respond is exactly what they did, after winged air tankers were deployed to two false alarm vegetation fires Monday afternoon, crews in San Diego County got the call that they were needed in Irvine. They are part of an intricate puzzle of response resources in San Diego County.

“That’s a perfect example, the puzzle, every single one of these pieces is smaller piece to the larger puzzle and without one of these things the puzzle doesn’t really make much sense,” Sanchez said.

Ramona’s Air Attack Base acts as a regional hub for all of Southern California, they were ready in just minutes to deploy teams to other areas. KUSI asked what happens when those tankers are needed here at home.

“So while we have sent our fixed winged air tankers to go assist on the Silverado fire, we still have a strong rotary wing helicopter response that we can maintain and send to any new fire,” Sanchez said. “We never send more than we can afford to give to maintain an aggressive initial attack here in San Diego.”

Plans in place were developed over years of trial and error. Seventeen years ago this week for example, the deadly Cedar Fire broke out, devastating portions of San Diego County. Plans have adapted since then to learn from past mistakes.

“The biggest thing that’s changed here in San Diego County and fire protection was the creation and subsequent growth of the San Diego Fire Authority,” Sanchez said. “It adds a significant response capability to any fire that breaks out anywhere in the county, that not only do we utilize to great effect but it’s available to our cooperating agencies so it’s had a significant impact to the entire region.”

Categories: California News, Local San Diego News, Wildfires