Just a little more than one week into July and thousands of CAL FIRE Local 2881 members and members of other IAFF locals around the state are working around-the-clock to bring wildfires under control and to keep enough fire fighters available to respond to other emergencies.
“We have between 1,000 and 3,000 fire fighters working to contain these wildfires and protect homes,” explains CAL Fire Local 2881 President Mike Lopez. “When you have multiple fires, resources are depleted very quickly.”
Lopez says further, “Our members will be keeping this pace through November. It’s a long haul.”
Conditions are very hot – in the triple digits in some places – and dry. Thousands of California residents have been forced to evacuate their homes due to threat of wildfires, including the Whittier Fire in Santa Barbara County where 3,500 left their homes and a Boy Scout camp was evacuated. So, far the fire has burned nearly 11,000 acres and is 5 percent contained.
Local 2881 is making faster progress elsewhere. More than 4,000 people were evacuated due to the Wall fire, located in southeast Butte County, but some have already been allowed to go back home as fire fighters work diligently to protect homes. Fire crew efforts significantly slowed the spread of the fire during the initial attack and some fire fighters were released to rest for the next shift. However, many had to be called back as homes were threatened.
One crew noticed an American flag flying from one of the homes, and fire fighters were moved not only to protect a symbol of this country, but also to prevent it from igniting and possibly allowing the fire to spread to the home. Both the flag and the home escaped the fire. (Photo credit: Josh Edelson)
So far, 17 structures and 5,600 acres have been burned in this fire.