SACRAMENTO, Calif. (July 15, 2017) — California’s firefighting mutual aid system continues working at full speed this weekend sending firefighters and resources from across the state to join the battle at 12 major wildfires threatening dozens of communities at both ends of the state. As of Saturday, there were more than 400 engines, four dozen aircraft and over 7,000 personnel working on wildfires that have already burned as much as 159,000 acres statewide.
“Our tried-and-true mutual aid system is working just as designed. We’re strategically deploying a lot of resources to these wildfires regardless of where they’re burning,” said Mark Ghilarducci, Director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. “Our number one priority is to protect lives and property using the most effective combination of local, state and federal resources through a unified effort,” said Ghilarducci.
Cal OES’s Fire and Rescue Division, which manages the statewide fire and rescue emergency mutual aid system, has been working around the clock this past week to analyze wildfire activity at various incidents and immediately coordinate requests for a wide range of firefighting resources. On Friday, fire officials were particularly concerned about sundowner winds fanning flames on the stubborn Whittier Fire in Santa Barbara County over the weekend. That prompted Cal OES to dispatch additional local government mutual aid strike teams and specialized resources to pre-position in advanced of the emerging threat.
Hundreds of local government firefighters from as far south as the San Marcos Fire Protection Department and as far north as the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District are working side-by-side with the US Forest Service, Santa Barbara County Fire, CALFIRE and many other local agencies on the Whittier Fire. Their goal is to gain the upper hand on the wildfire that has burned 17,364 since it began last Saturday along Highway 154 in the Lake Cachuma area. The fire is currently 35% contained.
Cal OES Inside Look: Check out this video to see more on the neighbor-helping-neighbor system for fire mutual aid in California.
On just the Whittier Fire alone, there are 1,612 firefighters assigned, including 103 fire engines, 38 hand-crews, 16 dozers, 14 helicopters, and 22 water tenders and 18 bulldozers.
It’s a coordinated public safety effort among many local, state and federal agencies including Santa Barbara County Sheriff, California Highway Patrol, Caltrans, Southern CA Edison, PG&E, Goleta Water District, Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management, American Red Cross and others.
- To learn more about California’s robust Fire & Rescue Mutual Aid System, watch https://youtu.be/qZx6P1ZnnnE and visit Cal OES Fire & Rescue Division’s web page http://www.caloes.ca.gov/Cal-OES-Divisions/Fire-Rescue
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