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«SignOnSanDiego.com News Metro Cal Fire drawing heated cr. SAVE THIS | EMAIL ...»

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The station's request was relayed to August Ghio, chief of the San Miguel Fire District.

The station's microwave dish was in jeopardy. So were critical antennas for firefighters' radios. If the equipment had been destroyed, vital evacuation news, as well as radio traffic among fire agencies, would have been interrupted.

The Copter 1 pilots had trained over Mount Miguel just a few months earlier. Yet even without contacting Cal Fire, Ghio denied the request.

“That was a state-responsibility area at that time,” Ghio said in a recent interview. “Requesting Copter 1 would have been useless – state policy is no flying at night, and that's just the way it is.” Ground crews battled the blaze as it rolled over Mount Miguel, he said. And while a few structures were lost, the equipment survived and no communication was affected.

“We can only control what's in our authority to control,” Ghio said.

Copley News Service correspondent Michael Gardner contributed to this report.

Tony Manolatos: (619) 542-4559; tony.manolatos@uniontrib.com

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