REGION — San Diego County is getting a boost to its firefighting efforts after Cal Fire received over $72 million in state funding to add 24 aircraft to its fleet during wildfire season, officials announced today.
The funding will allow Cal Fire to add 19 helicopters and five airplanes to its fleet for a contractual period of 90 to 120 days, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The additional aircraft will include three large air tankers designed to carry up to 4,000 gallons of retardant. The aircraft have been placed across California and will be pre-positioned to meet the needs of potential fire activity throughout the state.
San Diego is one of several counties where the aircraft have been positioned, along with Riverside, Butte, Fresno, Humboldt, Lassen, Mariposa, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, Shasta, Siskiyou, Sonoma, Tulare and Tuolumne.
“The deployment of more aircraft dedicated to the people of California marks a historic milestone with the highest number of firefighting aircraft ever available for initial attack in the state for the second consecutive year,” Cal Fire Director and Fire Chief Joe Tyler said.
“The significant rainfall California experienced this winter has led to a substantial increase of highly flammable fuels, which contribute to the rapid escalation of fires,” Tyler added.