Area fire crews battling blazes |

Area fire crews battling blazes

About 40 area firefighters joined beleaguered Southern California fire crews this week, as high Santa Ana winds continued whipping large wildfires, destroying more than 1,300 structures and wreaking havoc on millions of lives.

“It’s not getting any better at all,” said Nevada County Consolidated Fire District Chief Tim Fike from the Lake Arrowhead area Tuesday. Fike is serving as operations chief for the Slide Fire and Grass Valley Fire near Lake Arrowhead after arriving in Southern California late Monday.

“The fire is still wind driven,” Fike said. “It’s still very, very dry, and we’re still having problems with spot fires (springing up).”

Western Nevada County agencies responded in a nearly identical dispatch of manpower and equipment during the devastating 2003 Southern California fires, said Grass Valley Fire Battalion Chief Tom Browning. Nine area firefighting agencies sent engines and personnel to Southern California, Browning said.

He didn’t know the specifics about who responded from each area agency, but did say that seven Grass Valley firefighters and three Nevada City firefighters are among the local people fighting the Southern California blazes.

Browning serves as a Nevada County Office of Emergency Services representative helping coordinate responses to such disasters.

Many firefighters are sent to a staging area first before getting orders to head out to a specific fire, Browning said.

“They might be at one fire one day and another fire the next day,” Browning said.

In all likelihood, no more area firefighters or engines will be sent to the fires, Browning said. Local firefighting agencies can’t spare any added personnel without hurting their ability to respond to local emergencies, he said.

Area firefighters could be in Southern California for as long as 14 days, but Browning said he didn’t anticipate they would be there that long.


To contact Staff Writer Greg Moberly, e-mail or call 477-4234.

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