EAST SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) --Wildfire training taking place in East San Jose is coming at a critical time as we cope with a long drought and high fire danger.
It's pretty obvious that we're in fire season. CAL FIRE has already responded to more than 2,100 fires this year. That's a nearly 70 percent increase compared to the average year.
On Wednesday, several dozen firefighters from the Bay Area, including South San Francisco, Saratoga, Pacifica, Milpitas, and Gilroy gathered in Grant Ranch County Park on the way up to Mount Hamilton in East San Jose.
The crews are learning how to use various tools to light fires in a safe way; this could create a fire break that could save homes and lives.
The firefighters are also being trained to be strike team leaders, meaning they will bring groups of their firefighters and equipment to other parts of the state to help with wildfires.
"One of the issues is if they don't understand what they're doing they can make the problem worse," said Santa Clara County Fire Dept. Chief Wally Fink. "And worse yet, somebody could get hurt or killed."
When asked if the goal is to make sure they know how to do it correctly, Chief Fink answered, "Absolutely, that is what our goal is up here. Make them understand how to use it, when to use it and that it will benefit and not hurt someone."
CAL FIRE's director just issued an order Wednesday morning suspending open burning for the state responsibility area. That's 31 million acres.
That means the suspension of all residential burn permits, forest management, hazard abatement, and other industrial-type permitted burning.
Campfires may still be allowed, but check with the local authorities before you start one.
CAL FIRE cites the drought conditions and as a major factor in this order.
The training session will take place Wednesday and Thursday in the park, so expect to see some smoke in East San Jose.