Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Local Cal Fire personnel sent to fight Summit Fire

LAKE COUNTY – California's fire season already has begun, and firefighters from the Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit are on their way to help fight a blaze raging in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The Summit Fire began early Thursday morning and already has burned 3,000 acres, according to Cal Fire officials. Its cause is under investigation.

Cal Fire reported Thursday that a strike team consisting of 16 personnel and five engines, three strike teams of crews totaling 37 people, and a strike team of two bulldozers and three personnel were dispatched from the Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit to the fire, which is located in both Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.

A retinue of red Cal Fire trucks and personnel could be seen driving along Highway 20 toward Williams at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

Santa Cruz County spokesperson Dinah Phillips reported that as of Thursday night the Summit Fire had resulted in 336 mandatory and 1,400 voluntary evacuations, closed numerous roads, and resulted in downed trees and widespread power outages.

The fire, which Phillips said is moving toward the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, caused area schools to be closed Friday due to air quality concerns.

About a dozen people and 200 horses were being sheltered at area fairgrounds, Phillips added.

Santa Cruz County issued a proclamation of existence of a local emergency, with the proclamation sent to the governor and to the state Office of Emergency Services Thursday morning, according to Phillips.

Cal Fire reports that the fire is 15-percent contained. Phillips added that two smaller fires nearby were contained earlier.

Firefighting resources working to contain the scene include more than 500 firefighters, four fire crews, 65 engines, seven air tankers, three helicopters, 15 bulldozers and nine water tenders, according to Cal Fire. Approximately 500 homes and 20 businesses are currently threatened.

According to Cal Fire, its resources are coordinated on a statewide basis and can be moved at a moment’s notice to locations across the state.

In an initial response to an emergency, the agency reported that it uses the closest resources and backfills by moving personnel and equipment from unaffected areas of the state (move up and cover).

Cal Fire reported that, in anticipation of an early start to the fire season, the Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit made the decision to bring resources to match fuel and weather conditions. This includes seasonal employees such as firefighters to staff engines and staff the Sonoma Air Attack Base.

Since opening on May 14, Cal Fire reported that its aircraft have responded to local fires (Geysers and the “Tar” off St. Helena Road) as well as fire activity in neighboring counties.

The Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit currently has nine engines, four bulldozers and three fire crews available locally, and has placed orders for additional equipment, Cal Fire reported. The Sonoma Air Attack Base is currently reloading air tankers in support of the Summit Fire and others.

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


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