OC Fire Dept. Was Ill-Equipped
Lack of equipment, manpower allowed Santiago fire to grow into monster
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2007 2:11 PM CDT
John Stephan of the Garden Grove Fire Department waves from atop a rig as flames descend a slope in Live Oak Canyon in eastern Orange County, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2007. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – Orange County firefighters might have contained the fire that ripped through Irvine, the county fire chief says, if only there were more of them. Orange County was short on manpower and fire engines even before it sent crews to help contain Malibu’s fires. With state reinforcements busy elsewhere, and aircrafts grounded by red tape, the Santiago fire grew into a monster, destroying 16 homes.

“We're out there with a handful of crews trying to stop this big fire,” said the OC fire chief. Much of Southern California faced similar problems, the LA Times says. After the 2003 fires, a state commission recommended buying 150 new fire engines. So far only 19 have been ordered and none delivered.