CAL FIRE Gets Military Assist in Fighting Wildfires

SAN DIEGO -- As many as 11 Marine and Navy helicopters have been called into action to help Cal Fire with two wildfires burning in the East County.

With fires burning all the way up to Northern California, Cal Fire aerial assets are stretched thin.

Using the Defense Support of Civilian Authority, Cal Fire put in a request to use military assets "all made possible after the two major wildfires we had in 2003 and 2007," said Mike Mohler with Cal Fire.

Following those two major fires, Cal Fire began training every year at Camp Pendleton with Navy and Marine pilots so that everyone was on the same page as far as communication language, protocols and procedures.

"Firefighting is not their primary mission; their job is the defense of our country, but when our resources are stretched thin, the training allows us to put in a request for their help if they're available," Mohler said.

The military's heavy lift helicopters are not only used drop up to 500 gallons of water, but aiding in troop transport.

Mohler added, "With the rugged terrain, we are airlifting firefighters into the area and the military is a great asset."

The agreement between Cal Fire and the military stipulates that if used, the military can only fly on fires in San Diego County.

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