Thursday, 02 February 2023

Local firefighters continue work in Southern California

LAKE COUNTY – Local firefighters remain at work in Southern California as fires continue to wreak havoc in the region.


On Monday, four Lake County fire agencies – Lakeport Fire Protection District, Northshore Fire Protection District, Lake County Fire Protection District and South County Fire Protection District – each sent an engine and a total of 14 firefighting personnel to Southern California, as Lake County News reported Tuesday.


An engine and three firefighters from Anderson Valley in Mendocino County accompanied the Lake County contingent, according to Lakeport Fire Protection District Chief Ken Wells.


On Wednesday Wells reported that the local firefighters are working shifts of 24 hours with 24 hours off. Wednesday was a day for them to rest, he said.


“They're all safe and sound,” Wells said. “They were involved with some structure protection last night.”


Wells said the Lake County firefighters are working with a division assigned to the Lake Arrowhead area. On Tuesday night the division had eight structure fires but managed to save 75 homes, he said.


So far, local agencies haven't had to send any more firefighters, said Wells.


Due to the extreme fire conditions in Southern California, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) reopened Northern California's fire season, which was to have officially closed on Monday.


The change, Cal Fire officials reported, allowed Cal Fire to retain seasonal employees to help fight the Southern California fires while keeping Northern California stations adequately staffed.


Cal Fire Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit Battalion Chief Redhawk Palleson said the unit already had laid off about half of the seasonal personnel it employs, but kept the rest.


Information provided by Fire Prevention Specialist Suzie Blankenship shows that Cal Fire employs about 400 seasonal fire personnel.


Palleson said the Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit has sent 150 personnel – including firefighters and command personnel – along with 15 engines and three bulldozers to Southern California. “We've sent just about as many people as we can right now.”


Monday was the big push to send firefighters, said Palleson, with requests for additional help slowing since then.


Wells said it's still not clear when Lake County's firefighters will come home.


Generally, when they begin releasing equipment on large fires, Wells said officials send those from farthest away home first, which in this case could include Lake County's contingent.


Earlier this summer Lake County firefighters were away for three days to help fight the Lick Fire near Morgan Hill, said Wells.


The longest out-of-county assignment they had previous to that was in 1993, when they spent eight days fighting a fire in Malibu.


Cal Fire's Wednesday evening report stated that 461,587 acres had burned across San Diego, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Santa Barbara, Riverside and Ventura counties.


The acreage burned in Southern California so far is nearly six times the size of the land scorched by the 1996 Forks Fire. That fire burned 83,000 acres in the Mendocino National Forest and on private property in parts of Lake County.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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