Just days after two dozen wildfires swept across major parts of San Diego County, firefighters from the Oakdale Fire Department and Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District responded as part of the state’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) mutual aid to assist in battling the infernos.
According to Stanislaus Consolidated Captain Buck Condit, the governor’s office has OES fire engines strategically placed throughout the state for such types of responses for large fires requiring mutual aid. Two different teams that had seven individuals from both local agencies were part of teams sent to the area.
The teams, staffed with four firefighters from Stanislaus Consolidated and three from City of Oakdale, were part of two assigned “strike teams” with additional personnel from West Stanislaus, Modesto Regional, UC Davis and Grass Valley Fire. They worked 24 hour shifts on Division N of the San Diego fires doing damage assessments and taking care of flare ups and blazes.
Condit said the teams were assigned to one of the original ignition points working with homeowners while fighting “hot spot” areas.
The crews were joined by over 5,000 state, federal, and local firefighters who battled nearly a dozen wildfires which were fueled by drought conditions and strong Santa Ana winds.
During the clash the firefighters moved quickly and aggressively against numerous brush fires in the northern regions of San Diego County.
The two local teams left for San Diego on May 16 and returned on May 20.
“For a short trip, they really helped a lot down there,” said Condit. “This was a short trip in the sense of others where we’ve been out on, we’ve been gone weeks.”
The rash of major fires was 98 percent contained by Friday, May 23. It had destroyed dozens of homes and businesses as the fires raged over tens of thousands of acres throughout the San Diego area.
Last year crews were sent for a longer period to Tuolumne County for the Rim fire, the third largest wildfire in California’s history, assisting in the blaze that burned 257,314 acres.
While fire season here has yet to take off, residents will notice just about anywhere in the county there is tall grass and brush quickly drying out, foretelling a long hot fire season.
“Looks like we’re already fighting wildfires and it’s only May,” said Condit. “This is a red-flag warning.”
Condit advised that a typical wildfire season for the state is at its peak in September and October.