Local firefighters help in California blazes
BRECKENRIDGE It only took two hours for crews from Red, White & Blue Fire Protection to gather their things when they received a call that they were needed to help fight the hundreds of wildfires burning in northern California last week.They needed a Type 6 wildland fire engine immediately and, given we had already signed up to provide aid in California if needed, our firefighters were out the door as soon as possible, Red, White & Blue Captain Kim Scott said.Paramedic and firefighter Steve Webster lead a team that included driver Chris Sutton and firefighter Tally McNeil on a journey to Ukiah, Calif., where lightning ignited hundreds of separate fires. All of our firefighters have been training since February in preparation for the 2008 wildland firefighting season, Red, White & Blue wildland coordinator Matt Benedict said. Beginning in April, our personnel and equipment are ready to leave at a moments notice.Since arriving in California last Friday, the crew from Breckenridge has been helping protect buildings in a 35,000-acre area near Ukiah. Some 10 communities in the area have been threatened, and evacuations are in effect. After talking with the crew, it sounds like the incident is running well, and there are over 1,200 other firefighters on scene to help, Benedict said. They have been able to reduce the number of separate fires from 107 to 67, but that number may go back up.According to federal mandates, wildland firefighting crews may only work 14 consecutive days, after which they need to have two days of rest. If requested, Red, White & Blue will rotate crews in 14 days, allowing other firefighters in the department to test their skills on the front line. Our firefighters continue to gain invaluable experience and knowledge taught only through fighting wildland fires, said Chief Gary Green. This, in turn, allows us to have some of the most qualified firefighters at the ready for any local wildland fire.Red, White & Blue will be fully reimbursed by the federal government for all of the expenses related to the California deployment, Scott added.Ashley Dickson can be reached at (970) 668-4629, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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