News / USA

California Firefighters Ready for Severe Fire Season

California Firefighters Ready for Severe Fire Seasoni
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 12, 2014 7:08 PM
Years of drought have put California at risk of a serious fire season. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Hemet, California, where firefighters are training to be ready for the next big wildfire.
Mike O'Sullivan
Years of drought have put California at risk of a serious fire season, and firefighters in Hemet, California, are training to be ready for the next big wildfire.

Record high temperatures in May led to serious wildfires near San Diego, months before the fire season is usually under way. This followed nearly three years of drought and the driest year on record in 2013.  

The drought left the brush tinder-dry, said Captain Richard Cordova, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as CAL FIRE.

“When we have higher temperatures, lower humidity and you throw winds in there, it is just a recipe for extreme fire danger," he said. "And when we see all those three elements come together, CAL FIRE reacts and starts moving equipment around.”
 
Tactical training

At the firefighter air base in the city of Hemet, a CAL FIRE air tactical unit trains to stay prepared.  

Helicopters take crews to the scene of wildfires and tankers drop flame retardant from the air.

Mike Venable, a contract pilot from the company DynCorp International, flies an air tanker for CAL FIRE, sometimes dousing minor fires on local grasslands.

“Everything from that to the challenging 12,000 or 14,000-foot [3,500 or 4,000-meter] peaks, maybe up in the high Sierras or in the forests that surround our base here, so it is a very big variety of flying. Some can be very dangerous, some not so dangerous,” said Venable.

Pilots and firefighters keep their bags packed and aircraft ready.  

Agile response

Daily weather briefings alert them to potential hot spots. Careful tracking of fuel load and weather forecasts help with flight planning.

Battalion Chief Travis Alexander said aircraft are stationed throughout California and can reach a fire in minutes, and are there to back up ground crews.

“Because the aircraft in this agency is just one of many tools. We have the hand crews, the [bull]dozers, engine companies, a variety of other assets," he said. "The air program comes in as a support function.”

At a nearby fire station, crews sort axes, shovels and other field tools, staying ready to fight both urban and wildland blazes.

Air and ground crews work to keep the fires away from homes and other buildings, said Venable.

“If you are able to help somebody on the ground, save a house, keep a firefighter out of a hazardous situation, that is rewarding,” he said.

It is a continuing effort to stay ahead of the fires. CAL FIRE has 5,000 permanent firefighters. It hired 300 recently because of the drought. Several thousand seasonal workers, including inmates from correctional facilities, help out every year.

State officials say their job this year is likely to be a tough one.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid