Military and civilian firefighters will conduct their annual Wildland Fire Fighting Exercise Thursday at Lake O’Neill on Camp Pendleton to prepare for the upcoming fire season, which starts next month.
The annual exercises began in response to a spate of wildfires in October 2007 that resulted in 10 deaths, about 1,600 homes destroyed and roughly 369,000 acres burned. One of the blazes, the Ammo Fire, charred more than 21,000 acres on Camp Pendleton.
Participants in this year’s drill will work together to “streamline response and integrated communication efforts to provide ready, trained and certified military and civilian resources to combat wildland fires in the region, culminating with a cooperative effort to extinguish wildland fires,” according to a Camp Pendleton statement.
Marine Corps Installation West Fire and Emergency Services program manager George Shinrock said agencies have a vested interest in building their relationships ahead of what could turn out to be a heavy fire season.
“We are all working to combat the ravages of wildfires, both on and off the installations in the region,” Shinrock said.
Cal Fire Capt. Isaac Sanchez said more plants growing as a result of heavy rains over the winter could aggravate the wildfire risk.
“There has been a massive increase in grass here in San Diego County, increasing the threat of a catastrophic fire,” Sanchez said. “It just adds more fuel.”
—City News Service
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