CalFire Staffing Questioned in Wake of Wildfires

SAN DIEGO --

Critics of Cal Fire said Thursday that the organization did not use every available resource the military had to offer during the October firestorms.

Cal Fire said that assessment was false, citing the abundance of helicopters and airplanes visible to all during the blazes. Every available aircraft was utilized when the weather permitted, the organization said

County Supervisor Ron Roberts said that bureaucratic red tape blocked the path to more firefighting resources. Critics have said that Cal Fire was severely understaffed with trained firefighters to work in the planes.

Cal Fire said Thursday that they have an agreement with the Navy and worked closely with naval officials in preparation for the fires, and they had to make due with the resources with which they were provided.

"On Oct. 16, an air attack officer made a phone call to the Navy and said, 'We have a red flag warning coming; What do you have available for us?'" Cal Fire Capt. Steve Shoemaker said. "And at the time they had one aircraft available to be staffed for firefighting."

Cal Fire said it met with Marine officials Wednesday in an effort to reach a working agreement, similar to the one it has with the Navy.

Roberts said those efforts should have been made long ago in accordance with the governor's Blue Ribbon Committee.

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