By Miriam Raftery
July 31, 2010 (San Diego) – “Countywide, there are approximately 240 firefighters from San Diego at fires in the north,” Cal-Fire battalion chief Nick Schuler told East County Magazine today. That includes the Crown Fire southwest of Palmdale in Los Angeles County, which has scorched 13,918 acres and is 62% contained. In Kern County, another large blaze has charred 1,658 acres and is 85% contained.
About 220 of the 240 local firefighters deployed in northern regions are Cal Fire personnel, including 128 inmate firefighters. Cal-Fire employees a total of 500 people in San Diego County, Schuler said.
To make up for the shortfall, Cal-Fire brought off-duty firefighters to staff engines locally—a step needed to protect against new fires in our region, but that will add costs at a time when the state budget is already facing roughly a $20 billion deficit.
Besides Cal-Fire personnel, another 20 firefighters or so are deployed to fires elsewhere in California from Camp Pendleton, Vista, Oceanside, San Diego City, and North County Fire Department. Some could be away for up to two weeks, Schuler said.