Wildland fires across the state tap resources
More than 45 significantly sized wildland fires are ablaze in both Northern and Southern California and Truckee firefighters are traveling to different parts of the state in response to requests for mutual aid.
“This is the most we’ve been involved,” Truckee Fire Protection District Chief Mike Terwilliger said. “They’ve been traveling around quite a bit. This is about the most we’ve had out before.”
As of press time yesterday, TFPD had one engine and three personnel committed, with one engine and three personnel who just returned; California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection had two engines and eight personnel; Donner Summit Fire Department had one crew and engine covering CDF Station 51 and the local U.S. Forest Service had a total of 27 personnel and one engine committed to Northern California fires.
CDF Battalion Chief Bryce Keller and Captain Dean Lavonian have been away fighting wildland fires since Aug. 12. They were at first committed to the Elko, Nev., fire and then sent to the Chico area fires in Northern California.
“They’re just on the circuit. It’s not unusual during fire season,” said Terwilliger.
Large wildland in fires Northern California were sparked early last week by a combination of windy, dry weather and huge amounts of lightning strikes. Last week, more than 200 wildland fires were burning at once, said fire officials.
“(Fire season) has been typical until we got this dry lightning,” Terwilliger said. “This time, it’s just too many fires at once.”
Fire season runs from June 1 to Oct. 1, and is most critical in August and September when the fuels are the driest.
“Typically, we get the dry northern winds in September,” Terwilliger said. This year, they came a little earlier, he said.
Because hundreds of thousands of acres of wildland fires have been burning recently in Nevada, resources for California fires have been a little more scarce than usual. Most of the fires have occurred on
Bureau of Land Management lands which has sparked interest because of environmental concerns. Many of these lands are grazing lands for cattle and other wildlife.
“It’s too bad. It’s really ruining the desert,” Terwilliger said. “Normally we don’t get involved in the Elko, Nev. area fires. That’s why we’re sending so many California resources.”
Fire officials from all agencies said while our local crews are away, there is always adequate coverage of both personnel and equipment.
“We actually have more resources here today than we normally have, even though it’s not all our own equipment,” said CDF Captain Stu Wik.
Terwilliger added, “I’ve turned down quite a few requests. We’ve sent the most we send. I want to maintain engine coverage locally.”
Below are some of the larger fires currently burning in our state. (Items in bold represent fires to which Truckee firefighters from various agencies have been sent).
Northern California large fires
– Shasta-Trinity Complex – Shasta-Trinity Ranger Unit, 2,500 acres.
– MHRD Complex – Plumas National Forest, 12,587 acres. Consists of nine fires which threatens structures and State Highway 70 and the Dixie Valley.
– FRRD Complex – Shasta-Trinity National Forest, 3,755 acres. Consists of six lightning fires north of and west of Lake Oroville.
– High Complex – Shasta-Trinity National Forest, 22 miles north of Redding, Calif., 18,500 acres. Consists of 19 fires lightning fires.
– Yellow Pine Complex – Modoc National Forest, 20 miles north of Tulelake, Calif., 34,441 acres. Mopup and demobilization of complex is beginning.
– Big Bar Complex – Shasta-Trinity National Forest, 28 miles northwest of Weaverville, Calif., 4, 685 acres. Consists of five lightning fires.
– Butte Complex – Butte County, 32,879 acres. Consists of several fires, 14 outbuildings and one boat were destroyed. Fire is 100 percent contained.
Southern California large fires
– Pine – Riverside Ranger Unit, near Silent Valley, Calif., 1,523 acres, six structures lost.
– Willow – San Bernardino National Forest, near Willow Creek, Calif., 44,000 acres.
– Mixing – San Bernardino National Forest, near Mountain Center, Calif., 3,000 acres.
– Bridge – Angeles National Forest, near Azusa, Calif., 2,000 acres. A mandatory evacuation for the town of Falling Springs and Crystal Lake is in place.
– Coulterville – Madera-Mariposa-Merced Ranger Unit, west of Coulterville, Calif., 500 acres. The town of Coulterville is threatened.
– Wind – Kern County Fire Department, fire in Sand Caynon, Calif., 300 acres. Strong winds are causing problems.
– Merced – Madera-Mariposa-Merced Ranger Unit, 500 acres. Structures at Lake McClure threatened.
– Shannon – Los Angeles County, in Acton, Calif., 1,650 acres. Three out buildings and one residence was destroyed.
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