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East County News Service

June 20, 2016 (Ramona) --Supervisor Dianne Jacob  posted blisteringr remarks on her Facebook Page today, with the Border Fire raging out of control and forcing evacuations in multiple rural commnities: 

"The following is my statement in response to reports yesterday that United States Forest Service (USFS) air tankers were not utilizing the Ramona Air Attack Base, and instead were flying to San Bernardino in between drops on the Border Fire. The same Next Generation Air Tankers used by CAL FIRE were safely refilling at the Ramona Air Attack Base yesterday.

“The USFS and federal leaders are failing our region and unnecessarily putting lives and property at risk. The Board of Supervisors last summer called on the USFS and the federal government to land their Next Generation Air Tankers at the Ramona Air Attack Base in order to increase the frequency of drops on a wildfire. CAL FIRE has demonstrated that these types of planes can safely use the Ramona airport. Now we need the USFS to demonstrate that public safety is a higher priority than bureaucratic stubbornness. These planes can carry up to 3,000 gallons of retardant and increasing the frequency of drops gives us a better chance of knocking down dangerous wildfires,” Jacob concluded.

In July of last year, San Diego's five Congressoinal members sent a letter to USFS director Thomas Tidwell asking him to land the tanker planes at Ramona.  Supervisors then voted unanimously to ask President Obama to order the USFS to allow its tankers to take off from the Ramona Air Base to fight fighters, as ECM reported.

Had those pleas been heeded, the Border Fire might well have been contained early on without mushrooming out of control, threatening homes and lives in communities across the southeast portion of San Diego's East County.

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San Bernardino, Are they nuts??

Come on USFS put on your thinking caps. Ramona is the most logical place to load up retardant rather then waste precious flying time going all the way to San Bernardino. As you well know once these fires get a strong hold ever second counts. Shut down the airport except for emergency flights and make the airport top priority to fire fighting activity only. The Border Fire very well could have escalated into another Cedar Fire and more lives could have been lost. I'm not a fire fighter, but the quicker these wild fires are addressed the quicker they are extinguished. I hope it wasn't politics that entered into this equation as this blaze cost lives.

We now know 2 people died the first day of the fire.

Every second counts in these life or death situations. Would they be alive today if the tanker didn't have to come from so far away?   Could any of those 5 homes have been saved? We'll never know.

SBD Tanker bse

SBD actually has less traffic than Ramona. One of the -'s is the longer taxi time, close to a mile + in and out. And of course the much longer distance one has to travel there, even at 250 kts. The speed limit below 10,000 ft. Ramona has MUCH more traffic due to all the student pilots practicing there. The Control tower personnel are absolutely first class on dealing with all the traffic during a fire situation. An S2 airtanker can land, load and take off again sometime in as little 5-7 min.at Ramona