Firefighters doing what they can on Yuba Complex |

Firefighters doing what they can on Yuba Complex

GRASS VALLEY ” When lightning struck the Tahoe National Forest 92 times last weekend, local U.S. Forest Service personnel were the first to respond.

As fires near the town of Washington, Bowman Road, Cal-Ida, Graniteville and the American River Canyon burned beyond the forest’s control, blanketing communities with thick clouds of smoke, the state’s CalFire management team was called in.

So far, fire crews numbering 259 personnel have come from Kern, Ventura, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino and San Luis Obispo counties to fight the blazes burning in the Tahoe National Forest.

Bob Schober, of the Alaska Fire Service’s Midnight Suns Hotshot crew, flew in from Alaska to map by foot the 25 Fire near Cal-Ida because smoke has grounded air surveillance.

Experts in mapping, air attack, fire behavior and logistics study what they know about the fire from their computers and plan the safest routes for firefighters on the ground.

The fire base at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley is ready for 500 people, but could grow to hold 1,000 to 2,000 if needed, said Matt Corelli, public information officer for the Southern California Interagency Incident Management Team.

“If conditions worsen, we can also step up,” Corelli said. “It’s an upward movement of management of resources.”

With California in a drought year and still months to go before fire season reaches an end, crews are expected to remain in high gear.

“Last year was a busy year,” Corelli said. “I don’t think things are going to change. There’s still a lot of potential.”

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