SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – With wildfires now a constant danger, Cal Fire is opting to keep many more of its stations open during the winter.
After a year in which deadly and destructive fires swept from Wine County, to the Santa Cruz Mountains, and parts of Southern California, the agency made the decision to keep dozens of additional fire stations open for business year-round.
“We haven’t seen any rainfall of significance in the last month,” Cal Fire spokesperson Jim Crawford told KPIX 5. “And obviously, we’ve had some very significant fires this later part in the fall. And that’s outside of what our normal budgeted fire season would be.”
Typically, fire stations such as the one in the southern end of the Almaden Valley in San Jose, close during the winter months when the threat of wildfires is at its lowest.
But it will remain open this year, to the relief of people living nearby.
“We are so appreciative of it being open – just because of all of the fires happening,” said homeowner Chris Carson-Seals.
In years past, Cal fire has dramatically scaled back the number of stations that remain open and ready to battle wildfires during the winter months to just ten statewide.
This winter, the number of open fire stations will more than quadruple, to 52.
“We do have stations — even in the Bay Area — that are very remote and far away from other fire protection entities,” Crawford said. “Now we have places where we would have had an extended response, and now we have a response that’s closer instead.”
Cal Fire said firefighters will be engaged in fire prevention, such as clearing brush and setting controlled burns, when they’re not actively battling wildfires.
Officials said the cost to keep stations open year-round is $42 million.