SANTA ROSA (KPIX/AP) – Reinforcements were on the way for exhausted firefighters in the Bay Area, just as an already devastating wildfire season threatens to get even worse.
“Originally in the incident, resources were definitely stretched thin,” said Paul Lowenthal, a Cal Fire spokesman who is also Santa Rosa’s Assistant Fire Marshal. “Firefighters were working 72, 96 hours straight. We have since then had a significant number of firefighters assigned to this incident. So firefighters are able to have their [24 hour] shift on / shift off.”
Cal Fire officials said they have also deployed the California Conservation Corps to help with the incident command posts. And National Guard troops will soon arrive to help at the front lines. Officials at the LNU Lightning Complex command post say they expect the National Guard to arrive as soon as Wednesday afternoon.
“We are scheduled here to receive 12 National Guard hand crews with roughly 250 people assigned to those hand crews,” said Sean Kavanaugh, a Cal Fire Spokesman.
The fires burning across the Bay Area have burned nearly 1300 homes and other buildings, killed seven people, and prompted evacuation orders that still affect about 170,000 people. These are the second and third largest wildfires in California history. And officials are concerned because they have struck very early in the fire season.
“We find ourselves in August and typically in this area we’ve experienced a lot of large scale wildfires in October,” said Lowenthal. “So being this early and this part of the fire season, and having this number of incidents going on at the same time, it’s definitely going to be a challenge.”
Firefighters are also getting some help from the weather. On Tuesday night, the temperatures cooled down and the humidity is high.
© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.