First responders strategize plans of attack for beating deadly Camp Fire
The evacuation center at the Yuba-sutter Fairgrounds has plenty of cots available for evacuees of the Camp Fire.
Yuba-sutter officials are pitching in to help their neighbors. Law enforcement officers have been helping with evacuations and traffic control; county and city officials are aiding in relief efforts; and firefighters pushing back against the flames.
Marysville Fire Chief Ron Karlen was working in the resource unit – tracking, accounting and ordering resources like fire engines, hand crews, bulldozers and water tenders as needed to support other crews on the ground, such as Yuba-sutter strike teams. Karlen said resources are being split between the Butte County fire and the two in Ventura County, posing a challenge for getting caught up.
Part of Karlen’s job is developing a strategy for the next few days, as well as balancing duplicate resources between fire crews who are fighting and ones taking a break – they work in 24-hour shifts. As of Friday afternoon, a containment line had not yet been established.
“(Thursday) was totally focused on evacuations and performing rescues,” Karlen said Friday.
Officials are looking at another wind event picking up this weekend which could compound the fire further. Though concerning, it’s not abnormal, especially with the fire conditions the state has seen this year.
“We have no foothold on the fires, so it could burn in any direction,” he said.
But he said crews remain confident in their plans to fight back, though it’s a game of endurance and trying to keep focused.
“It’s like riding a bull,” Karlen said. “You’re just trying to hold on for the eight seconds and hope for the best.”
The Camp Fire has burned more than 90,000 acres and was only 5 percent contained, according to the latest Calfire update, as of Friday evening. At least nine people have been killed. In a press conference Friday morning, officials discussed the statewide red flag warning, and said they were requesting aid from surrounding states – though they’re challenged by the fires in Northern and Southern California.
“The magnitude of destruction we’re seeing is again, unbelievable and heartbreaking,” California Office of Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci said during the press conference. “We’ve got all hands on deck.”
Calfire Director Ken Pimlott said the fire was immediately met with 40 mph winds that grew to thousands of acres in just minutes. He encouraged residents to follow law enforcement directions, heed evacuation warnings and to look out for neighbors.
“It goes right back to our message,” he said, “every day is fire season somewhere in California.”