As Southern California continues to burn, area Cal Fire crews have become part of a fast moving game of chess to ensure enough resources remain at home, while helping give firefighters down south a fighting chance.
On Dec.5, Madera, Mariposa, and Merced counties sent two engine strike teams, one crew strike team and numerous personnel ranging from EMTs to communication officers.
Each engine strike team is made up of five engines and 16 firefighters totaling more than 30 area firefighters. A crew strike team is made up of two Fire Captains and up to 30 inmates.
They are fighting multiple fires and will remain down south indefinitely.
Southern California has been hit hard by five major wildland fires, the first one igniting on Dec. 4, that stretch through Santa Barbara and San Diego counties. The Santa Ana winds which, at times, clocked-in between 50 and 80 mph gave little reprieve to firefighters.
Tens of thousands were evacuated from communities ranging from Oceanside to Bel Air to Montecito. As of Tuesday, Dec. 12, more than 260,000 acres burned across all counties.
Countless homes have been threatened and more than 1000 structures have burned. At one time, the Skirball Fire was threatening Los Angeles’ J Paul Getty Museum.
Both the 405 freeway and U.S. 101 have been intermittently closed due to fire threat and public safety.
By Tuesday great progress had been made in the containment of fires below Ventura County.
The four fires, the Creek, the Rye, the Skirball and the Lilac Fire, hit containment levels of 85% or above.
Unfortunately, along fire lines in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, the Santa Ana winds continued leaving the Thomas Fire at 20% containment.