Truckee-Tahoe firefighters help in fight against California’s most destructive fire
Firefighters from around the Truckee-Tahoe area have spent more than a week battling the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history.
Crews from the Truckee Fire Protection District, North Tahoe Fire Protection District, Squaw Valley Fire Department, Northstar Fire Department, Meeks Bay Fire Protection District, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, along with others, joined forces with more than 4,600 fire personnel and nearly 400 engines to fight the Camp Fire, which has caused 79 deaths, and destroyed 12,637 residences.
The Butte County fire has burned 151,373 acres, according to Cal Fire’s update on Nov. 20, and is 70 percent contained. As of Tuesday, the Butte County Sheriff’s Office reported there are 699 persons missing due to the Camp Fire.
Members of the Truckee Fire Protection District have been working with Task Force 4, a search-and-rescue team from Oakland, the past couple days to help in the missing persons search, according to Public Information & Safety Officer Nick Brown. The district sent a crew of four to the blaze and a Type 1 fire engine, which is designed for structural fire fighting.
“We only typically will send out one engine, because we want to make sure that we do not strip our area. We want to send help, but we want as many resources available as possible in our fire district,” said Brown.
“We take our mutual aid responsibilities very seriously and we’re always willing to help out our neighbors.”
Brown added that the Truckee area shares a similar climate to that of Butte County, and that there is an outdoor fire ban in place in the area until the end of fire season.
“We have a similar climate and we could be susceptible to this late in November like we’re seeing now,” said Brown. “We still have very dry conditions.”
Firefighters have been able to strengthen and improve containment lines, according to the Cal Fire. Forecasted rain this week is expected to help with suppression, but could strain recovery efforts.
The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch from Wednesday afternoon through Friday morning in the area. Flash floods in burn areas, according the weather service, can result in mudslides and debris flows. Wind gusts of up to 40 mph, forecasted for Thursday afternoon and evening, could potentially bring down fire damaged trees.
Current resources at the fire include: 95 fire crews, 17 helicopters, 46 dozers and 52 water tenders.
Local U.S. Forest Service agencies have also sent resources. The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit sent an engine, and the Tahoe National Forest had three engines helping engage in structure protection.
The North Tahoe Fire Protection District sent a Type 1 fire engine along with a crew of four, a Type 3 fire engine (designed for wildland fire fighting) with a crew of four, and three chief officers to help bring the fire under containment.
The Type 3 engine and its crew returned to North Tahoe on Monday night, while the other crew is still on the scene.
“It was a really intense assignment and we’re happy to get at least some of them home for the holidays,” said Erin Holland, public information officer. “But certainly everyone’s thoughts are still the folks over there that are surrounded by all that tragedy.”
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.