USA– Supervisor Dianne Jacob posted blisteringr remarks on her Facebook Page today, with the Border Fire raging out of control and forcing evacuations in multiple rural commnities:
“The following is my statement in response to reports yesterday that United States Forest Service (USFS) air tankers were not utilizing the Ramona Air Attack Base, and instead were flying to San Bernardino in between drops on the Border Fire. The same Next Generation Air Tankers used by CAL FIRE were safely refilling at the Ramona Air Attack Base yesterday.
The USFS and federal leaders are failing our region and unnecessarily putting lives and property at risk. The Board of Supervisors last summer called on the USFS and the federal government to land their Next Generation Air Tankers at the Ramona Air Attack Base in order to increase the frequency of drops on a wildfire. CAL FIRE has demonstrated that these types of planes can safely use the Ramona airport. Now we need the USFS to demonstrate that public safety is a higher priority than bureaucratic stubbornness. These planes can carry up to 3,000 gallons of retardant and increasing the frequency of drops gives us a better chance of knocking down dangerous wildfires, Jacob concluded.
In July of last year, San Diego’s five Congressoinal members sent a letter to USFS director Thomas Tidwell asking him to land the tanker planes at Ramona. Supervisors then voted unanimously to ask President Obama to order the USFS to allow its tankers to take off from the Ramona Air Base to fight fighters, as ECM reported.
Had those pleas been heeded, the Border Fire might well have been contained early on without mushrooming out of control, threatening homes and lives in communities across the southeast portion of San Diego’s East County.