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October 1, 2014 (San Diego) – Santa Ana Winds are set to sweep into the area, and CAL FIRE is boosting preparations.

On behalf of CAL FIRE San Diego Unit and County Fire Chief Tony Mecham, I would like to advise you on some of the preparations that are being made in anticipation of the hot dry weather and Santa Ana winds that will be occurring over the next few days,” says Fire Captain and Public Information Officer Kendal E. Bortisser. Those preparations include:

* An additional Air Tanker will be available at Ramona, in addition to the two assigned for a total of three

* Five San Diego County Fire Authority Water Tenders will be covered 24/7

* Emergency Command and Control Center staffed with additional personnel

* All CAL FIRE Reserve Apparatus covered 24/7

* All CAL FIRE Bulldozers covered 24/7

* Additional Battalion Chief Coverage throughout the County

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The CAL FIRE website contains a lot of good info about their resources and equipment You can also visit the ANR and HPWREN site for real-time camera images from around Southern California.

How about these assets?

Cooperation? What about two SDG&E copters available through San Diego City Dispatch? And two additional helicopters through the Forest Service at Viegas? SDG&E Air Assets Arrive For High-Risk Fire Season Erikson Air-Crane and Type II Helicopter are now available SAN DIEGO, Sept. 2, 2014 – As part of San Diego Gas & Electric’s (SDG&E) efforts to serve as a regional partner in public safety, the utility has contracted the Erikson Air-Crane helitanker for the fifth consecutive high-risk fire season. Additionally, SDG&E has established a contract with Helistream Aviation for a Type II helicopter through November. “The spring wildfire storm was a stark reminder of the importance of regional wildfire response,” said John Sowers, vice president of electric distribution operations for SDG&E. “As SDG&E took into account the damage and loss from the May firestorm, we were compelled to not only bring in again the Air-Crane for high-risk fire season but to also contract for another firefighting tool, the Type II helicopter. It is our hope that these two aerial assets will help firefighting agencies quickly suppress wildfires, limiting damage to the region and our gas and electric system.” A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between SDG&E and the County of San Diego establishes a $300,000 operating budget for fire season, with SDG&E covering the cost to operate the helicopters during the first two hours of flight of any new fire and the County of San Diego covering the second two hours of flight from the County’s Aerial Fire Protection Fund. “Collaboration between public and private entities over the past several years has been vital to ensuring that our region is well prepared for the next emergency,” said San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts. “SDG&E has long been a partner in enhancing the county’s firefighting capability and I am pleased that they not only contracted the Air-Crane but also brought in a second helicopter.” A second MOU between SDG&E and the City of San Diego establishes that the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department will be the lead agency that would dispatch the Air-Crane and Type II helicopter to any wildfire upon request. The Air-Crane and Type II helicopter will be on standby for use by fire agencies throughout high-risk fire season and ready to take flight once dispatched. “With California well into the third drought year it is critical that the region is steadfast in its commitment to fire preparedness and prevention,” said Chief Javier Mainar of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. “It is vital to have air support in the City so that we can quickly respond and suppress fires early.” “As we saw just a few months ago, air support makes all the difference in our ability to quickly suppress wildfires,” said said Unit and County Fire Chief Tony Mecham. “SDG&E contracting not one -- but two fire suppression air assets will make a tremendous impact in ensuring our region is ready to quickly respond as we enter a critical time.” For more on the Air-Crane and Type II helicopter, please visit SDG&E’s photo and video page. - See more at:

Thanks, Don.

Our story was based on a Cal Fire release that did not include the SDG&E preparations; if SDG&E sent a release I didn't see it but did lose track of a lot of information sent in Sept. due to a power outage here. It is true that the SDG&E choppers have been useful at the scene of quite a few fires and it's good that they are available.