June 1 marks start of fire season

June 1 marks the traditional start of the fire season, and Cal Fire will add one firefighter to the staff at each of its 26 fire engines in San Diego County to prepare for wildfires.

But Capt. Nick Schuler of Cal Fire noted that June 1 is no longer the start of fire season because wildfires occur year-round.

In the past couple of weeks, a brush fire charred 100 acres and damaged three homes in Pala and another blaze scorched 60 acres in the Cottonwood area of Rancho San Diego. There have been numerous other brush fires smaller than 10 acres.

Moving toward what Schuler called “peak staffing’’ means that each state-funded engine will be handled by four firefighters.

As temperatures warm up, fire officials want homeowners to create 100-foot defensible spaces around houses, and for property-owners to do their brush clearance and other machinery use before 10:30 a.m. Many brush fires are caused by sparks from blades striking rocks, and other accidental mechanical reasons.

For financial reasons, the county did not lease the two Canadian “Super Scooper’’ firefighting aircraft like it did last year.

Cal Fire has posted two air tankers at the airport in Ramona, and two more in Hemet in Riverside County that can be sent south if necessary. Schuler said that so far, the state’s budget problems have not affected Cal Fire.