California's firefighting mutual aid system continued working at full speed this past 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, July 15 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 were working side-by-side with the US Forest Service, Santa Barbara County Fire, CALFIRE and many other local agencies on the Whittier Fire.
On just the Whittier Fire alone, there were 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.
For the latest information about the biggest wildfires burning in California, visit http://www.fire.ca.gov/current_incidents and https://inciweb.nwcg.gov.
To learn more about California’s Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System, watch https://youtu.be/qZx6P1ZnnnE and visit Cal OES Fire and Rescue Division’s web page http://www.caloes.ca.gov/Cal-OES-Divisions/Fire-Rescue.
Cal OES is responsible for the coordination of overall state agency response to major disasters in support of local government. The agency is responsible for assuring the state’s readiness to respond to and recover from all hazards – natural, man-made, war-caused emergencies and disasters – and for assisting local governments in their emergency preparedness, response, recovery, and hazard mitigation efforts. Visit them online at www.caloes.ca.gov or @Cal_OES on Twitter and get the latest news at caloesnewsroom.wordpress.com.