SAN JOSE (KCBS) – Firefighters called to a 4-alarm fire in the Berryessa neighborhood Wednesday may have been burned by the luck of the draw, since one of the closest engines wasn’t manned that day because of staffing cuts.

Every day, two engines are randomly browned out because the San Jose Fire Department has had to budget for 12 fewer fire fighters a day, said Capt. Mary Gutierrez.

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“Engine 29 works in this jurisdiction, and they would have been the second engine on this fire,” she said.

KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:

A unit from another jurisdiction was able to respond quickly without and without any appreciable delay, said Gutierrez, who hastened to point out that truck did lack one key resource that Engine 29 would have brought to bear on the attack as the fire spread—water.

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“It was a lot of fire when they first got here,” she said.

Gutierrez said Engine 23 did arrive in plenty of time, its crew aware as they sped to the scene they would have to locate their own fire hydrant when they pulled up to the 1900 block of Conifer Lane.

The main advantage of the extra engine would have been water pouring right away onto a second home that had caught fire, Gutierrez said.

The house where the fire started was completely destroyed, and about half the contents of the second home were lost. One firefighter was evaluated at the hospital for a minor injury.

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