By Marc Arcas
Palo Alto, USA, Jul 26 (EFE).- Already exhausted after fighting dozens of vast fires across the state throughout the month of July, California firefighters are deploying all their resources to prepare for the months to come, which traditionally feature the worst wildfires in the region.
After a rainless winter and record-breaking heat by the start of summer, risk levels are higher than ever, prompting firefighters to equip dozens of normally empty stations distributed all over the state, which will allow quicker response times in the months ahead.
One of these stations is found over the top of a mountain in the Foothills Nature Preserve in Palo Alto, south of San Francisco.
The station offers a general overview of the surrounding area, and is constantly staffed this year, night and day, since June, despite having been deprived of permanent watch last year.
This team posted up the mountains could save a precious 15 to 20 minutes that emergency services would need to arrive, and extinguish a small fire on their own before it comes close to getting out of hand.
“We really are here for the potential of what can happen. So that’s why it’s really imperative for personnel to be up here. That’s why we stationed three people with a captain, a firefighter and an engineer,” says Jim LaFuente, the team’s captain, who admits he is very worried about what is to come.
“The fire conditions in this area are getting worse, and that’s partly due to our weather. We’re getting more wind, this area is already as dry as it would normally be in August and September,” he says.
Across the state, firefighting corps have dispatched every available truck, plane and unit, stretching to the very limit their ability to respond to emergency situations.
“Every fire agency in California is facing the reality of budget restrictions,” says the head of the Santa Clara county fire department, Justin Stockman.
The lack of an adequate budget forces the department to make choices on what areas to prioritize.
However, according to Stockman, prevention is the best strategy, with deployment of units in additional outposts.
“The investment of keeping personnel closer to where fires may start far outweighs the potential costs down the road of dealing with these major fires that we’ve seen occur in California year after year,” he says.
Currently, over 80 great wildfires are active in the west of the United States, especially in California. EFE