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Tuesday, March 26 , 2019, 1:54 am | Fair 50º

 
 
 
 
Advice

Santa Barbara County Crews Send Dozens to Help With Northern California Fires

About 25 percent of the County Fire Department has been assigned to wildfires in Northern California including the Butte Fire and the Rough Fire

Santa Barbara County Fire strike teams join the effort fighting the Butte Fire Sunday.
Santa Barbara County Fire strike teams join the effort fighting the Butte Fire Sunday.  (Engineer Cesar Martinez / Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

About 50 firefighters from Santa Barbara County are working to try and bring raging fires in Northern California under control, with many crews working to protect thousands of threatened structures. 

About 25 percent of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department has been staffed to work on various fire throughout the state, including the Butte Fire, in Amador and Calaveras Counties, and the Rough Fire, which is burning in King’s Canyon National Park, east of Fresno.

A county strike team left for the Butte Fire on Thursday, drove through the night and worked 24 hours on Friday, said Mike Eliason, spokesman for Santa Barbara County Fire.

That fire is at 30 percent containment and has burned more than 71,000 aces.

Eliason said that 6,400 structures were threatened in that fire, and that 135 residences and 79 outbuildings had been lost. More than 4,400 personnel are working on that fire.

Butte Fire conditions were extreme, but “they saved a lot of houses,” Eliason said of the county strike teams. “They were really proud.”

Some structures were lost, too, and the firefighters had Saturday to rest before working another 24 hours throughout Sunday.

A burn operation on Sunday night brought about favorable conditions for that strike team and they were able to create a buffer around a town site by removing heavy brush that was posing a major threat to historic structures and a hotel.

The DC-10 air tanker, which can drop 11,600 gallons of fire retardant, passes overhead of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department Strike Team at the Butte Fire Sunday. Click to view larger
The DC-10 air tanker, which can drop 11,600 gallons of fire retardant, passes overhead of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department Strike Team at the Butte Fire Sunday.  (Engineer Cesar Martinez / Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

The county has a five engine strike team equipped with specialized wildland firefighting equipment on the Butte Fire in addition to a five-engine strike team with three county engines, a Santa Barbara City Fire engine and another local engine.

The county also has crews on the Rough Fire near Hume Lake, which was started by lightning July 31. That fire has burned over 138,000 acres and more than 3,000 personnel are working that fire as well.

A bulldozer and another three firefighters are working on the Rough Fire, along with a hand crew from the county, Eliason said.

Another set of local resources sent to the Butte Fire is a strike team from CAL-OES, which includes several engines stationed at various departments in the county as well as two from San Luis Obispo. 

Santa Barbara County also has one battalion chief working up in Washington State in the North Star Fire, which has claimed 219, 975 acres and is currently at 45 percent containment.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Strike teams from Santa Barbara County have joined thousands of firefighters across the state to battle the Butte Fire. Click to view larger
Strike teams from Santa Barbara County have joined thousands of firefighters across the state to battle the Butte Fire.  (Engineer Cesar Martinez / Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

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