State Battles Thin Resources as Firefighters Fight Historic Fires

Up and down the State of California, fires are raging. And more than 14,000 firefighters are on the front lines.

“We have about 19 large fires about four of them are very large fires one of which is actually one of the larges we have ever seen in California it’s almost 300,000 acres and that’s the Mendocino Complex Fire,” says Brad Alexander with the California Office of Emergency Services or Cal OES. 

Eight counties are now under a state of emergency because of these massive fires. 

“Conditions throughout the state are very dry making it easy for these fires to grow very quickly almost quicker that you can drive a fire truck or a get planes in front of those fire lines,” says Alexander.

He says Cal OES is working around the clock to place resources where they’re needed most, using their mutual aid system, a network that relies on equipment and firefighters from throughout the state. This system is vast and the only one of it’s kind but right now it’s not enough, “The mutual aid system is stretched thin at this time and we have been working for several weeks on these massive fires, essentially there’s a department from every county in the state of California that’s being represented at a major fire right now as well as national guard assets almost two dozen states, we just received about 150 or so personnel from Australia and New Zealand.”

But with more than half a million acres burned, and an average of 50 fires popping up per day they’re already planning for what’s to come.

“Work with our local government agencies in the other states letting them know that we’ve already been looking past next week, past the next couple of weeks because if you don’t have a contingency plan for the long term, then we’re not planning adequately enough,” says Alexander.

Firefighters are working longer hours, in more dangerous conditions in a never ending fire season, “In fire service just five to ten years ago it was highly uncommon for a firefighter to be on the line of a hundred thousand acre fire and now unfortunately it’s a yearly event.”

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