SAN DIEGO -- As this county burned, firefighters confronted a familiar reality: too few resources and not enough personnel to effectively make a stand.
San Diego officials say fire conditions Monday would have overwhelmed even a larger, better equipped firefighting force. They point to progress made in the four years since the devastating Cedar and Paradise fires, including a better communications system, more air support and an automated evacuation call system.
But little else has changed. Just one new city fire station has been built since 2003, and many of the area's chronically underfunded fire departments still fall short of national standards.
Once again, firefighters here found themselves outrun by fast-moving fires that
hopscotched the county. And the logistical challenge of moving at least 233,000 households out of harm's way proved daunting.
"We're stretched about as thin as we could possibly be," said San Diego Fire Chief Tracy Jarman.
Coupled with the lack of National Guard units available (they're busy bringing freedom to Iraq), who are supposed to be the first responders in case of disaster, it's another example of our misplaced priorities. We have gutted the nations infrastructure for the sake of tax cuts and wars. With each disaster or crisis, I'm reminded of the reasons for government and the result of our neglect. We deserve better.