Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Central Zone Sends Strike Teams to Parched Northern California

Lakeside, CA -

As a result of three years of exceptional drought, Northern California is seeing a siege of devastating fires burning in pristine forest land. So far this year the bulk of strike team deployments have been to Northern California.

Recently, a number of new fires have broken out. One of the more ominous fires is the King Fire burning east of Placerville, CA. This fire (much like last year's Rim Fire) is burning in prime forest with exceptionally poor access. For a period of time, the community of Pollock Pines was threatened as were many communities along Highway 50.

Strike Team 6440C: Central Zone Type III Strike Team

 On September 16, 2014, the Central Zone received a request to respond a strike team of brush type engines to the King Fire. This strike team consists of engines from Lakeside, Santee, Alpine, Sycuan, and Viejas fire agencies.

Due to the compact nature of brush engines they have a broad scope of capabilities and adapt well to unimproved roads commonly found in the national forests. They can also conduct structural defense in areas not accessible by the larger structural (Type I) engines.

This will likely be an extended assignment due to the explosive growth of the King Fire.

9/17/14: Strike Team 6440C has arrived in Placerville and is awaiting an assignment.

Central Zone Strike Team 6440C in Placerville, CA
9/17/14: The members of strike team 6440c were assigned to prep structures that could be threatened in the near future. Crews were also tasked with line cutting and putting in a contingency hose lay that can be used by crews to cut off the spread of the fire near these structures. Once again the fire had explosive growth today.

The King Fire with a pyrocumulus cloud towering above the very active fire.
Crew members from strike team 6440c work with a CalFire hand crew to improve a firebreak and put in a contingency hose lay.  

Firefighters line-up for chow at the King Fire base camp.
The crew assigned to Lakeside Brush 1 is (left to right) Captain Blane Darby, Engineer Robert Williams, and Probationary Firefighter Chad Murray

Strike Team 6840A: State of California OES Type I Strike Team

In the very early hours of September 17, 2014, the OES Strike Team 6840A formed up and started the trek to the King Fire. This strike team consists of state-owned OES engines assigned to agencies throughout San Diego County. Lakeside Fire has sent OES 305 on this assignment with Strike Team Leader Chuck Tockstein (Lakeside). Also from the East County is Heartland Fire and Rescue's OES 292. Other San Diego County agencies involved are San Diego Fire and Rescue, Rancho Santa Fe, and Poway.

These engines have a short wheel base and exceptional ground clearance which allows them to navigate the roadways in rural settings.

Like the other strike team this is likely a long deployment that can be as long as 14 days.

9/17/14: OES Strike Team 6840A has reached the Placerville Fairgrounds. They will soon receive orders and deploy to their assigned work location.

Firefighter Todd Welch captured this image of the pyrocumulus cloud above the King Fire. The image was taken near Sacramento near Highway 99/ 
 9/18/14: OES Strike Team 6840A has been assigned to the "West Structure Group". They will be establishing defensive positions on structures that are within the threat-zone.

We will update information about the strike teams as information is received.

Submitted By: Fire Captain Mark Grow, Lakeside Fire District 

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