Merced County Times Newspaper
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Fire Season In California, Same As In The Past, Only Worse

John Derby Headshot
Times Publisher John Derby

With 41 percent of the normal rainfall in most areas of California, what are we looking at this fire season?

The same as the past, only worse.

There are no new plans for handling the fires in California. More men and women, more machinery, more money, but no real change in the approach to forest management.

Why should Cal Fire change … the more fires, the more their budget grows.

The answer, and the one we have been preaching for several years, is air power.

Put out the fires before they get to the size where they are out of control.

Huge air tankers filled with water and fire retardant are the answer; however, this is not the answer the big fie chiefs want to hear.

They aren’t training pilots to fly air tankers.

Of course, we have our own motive in wanting air tankers, because Castle Air Field is the ideal place in the center of California to have a squadron of these air tankers ready and waiting. These tankers could be anywhere in the state in one hour.

Is Merced County trying to sell the state on this plan? No!

Local government leaders still think the best use of Castle is driverless cars.

So we have an entire state which can not see what is obvious, and an entire county which can’t understand why they don’t have Castle Airfield doing what it was meant to do — and that is offer the best runway in the state with a different solution to an ongoing problem. A problem that is only going to get worse.

Merced, Atwater and Winton are basically Air Force towns, and they can be again, providing the quality of high paying jobs which we need to get our young people to stay in this area. Otherwise we face the loss of our families to cities where they can make a living.

As far as the State of California is concerned, we can bring it to the water trough, but making it drink, is a whole different matter.

Welcome to Fire Season 2021!

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