No Super Scoopers This Year To Help Fight Fires - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

No Super Scoopers This Year To Help Fight Fires

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Super Scoopers were a bonus for San Diego firefighters this last year. The planes could dump large amounts of water at one time, helping prevent small fires from getting larger. But the county doesn't have the money to rent these planes again, so fire agencies are relying heavily on already limited resources.

After joining the arsenal of firefighting resources, the CL-415 - or Super Scooper - made a name for itself in San Diego County with its ability to carry up to 1,600 gallons of water and fill up in less than 30 seconds.

"Just the security of knowing we have locally controlled assets here in San Diego County that aren't going to go to northern California really gave us a great safety cushion," fire chief Augie Ghio said.

After a wild fire season in 2007, county supervisors found enough money to rent the aircrafts from Canada. Last year in North Bay Terraces, Super Scoopers helped put out a fire quickly after it burned 12 acres. The aircraft did the same at Camp Pendleton when fires threatened nearby homes. But the help came at a steep price.

"Unfortunately it costs $3 million and cash is king, if you don't have it, you can't buy it," Ghio said.

So this fire season the county will have to share the Martin Mars, a firefighting plane that's parked near Temecula.

"The weather pattern starts north of us, so the resources get drawn up over there," Ghio said.

Pete Scully of the California Department of Forestry says the Super Scoopers were great assets, but not necessarily the ultimate when it comes to extinguishing fires.

"These are all just tools, and all of these tools are needed to put out a fire. There is no one silver bullet that's going to stop a fire," Scully said.

Both Scully and Ghio stress that with limited resources, it's up to residents to be proactive during fire season.

"Have your disaster plan, have your evacuation plan. If you see it coming, evacuate early. Be prepared," Ghio said.

Fire departments are asking residents to be prepared by creating as much defensible space possible around their home.

They are also launching a campaign this July called Before the Threat. Fire officials plan to go door-to-door to some 400,000 homes, advising residents on what they can do to protect their houses.

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