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California prepositioning firefighting resources as heat wave intensifies

About 80 CAL FIRE SLO personnel were on scene.
Posted at 9:08 PM, Sep 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-03 00:08:02-04

Extreme heat means high fire danger across California this Labor Day weekend.

The state is sending extra resources to fire-prone areas, including Santa Barbara County.

This comes as a statewide heat wave continues to intensify.

“The conditions we’re facing going into the Labor Day weekend are troubling,” said Brian Marshall, fire and rescue chief at the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

Labor Day weekend is off to a destructive start with the Mill Fire destroying homes and forcing entire cities and towns to evacuate near Mount Shasta in Siskiyou County.

State emergency officials are bracing for more fire starts with widespread triple-digit heat, low humidity and gusty winds impacting much of California.

“When we have a large number of fires across the state, resources are at a premium,” said Marshall. “All of this factors into creating a score and then we preposition resources based on this heightened fire weather.”

Cal OES is pre-positioning firefighting resources in 12 counties-- including Santa Barbara County in response to the heat emergency.

“We’re all on high alert and Cal OES has given us funding so we can up staff extra fire engines,” said Scott Safechuck, public information officer with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department. “That up staffing is coming from our op area which includes Carpinteria, Montecito, Santa Barbara City, Lompoc, and Santa Maria in that strike team.”

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department has received funding to staff five extra wildland fire engines and a water tender.

The goal is to allow for a fast response so that firefighters can contain a wildfire before it gets out of control.

Fire officials urge people to be aware of their surroundings and not put themselves in danger as the busy Labor Day travel weekend gets underway.

“When people start feeling that hot weather and a sundowner’s occurring, it’s not the time you should be going hiking on the trail, we don’t want people caught on a trail when a fire starts,” said Safechuck.

Cal Fire is also on alert in San Luis Obispo County. Two strike teams recently left the area, but another team was set to arrive from Mariposa County Friday evening.

Cal Fire SLO says that vegetation is bone dry-- especially in North County where it’s not cooling off much at night.

As of Friday morning, Cal Fire SLO had 12 wildland fire engines and one dozer on hand.