Northeastern California is in flames, and for many Lassen and Plumas, Tehama, Shasta and Modoc county residents, ranchers, farmers, homeowners and landowners, a group of brave and dedicated firefighters is the only defense standing between them and a heart-wrenching and devastating wall of fire.
These teams of firefighters — from the men and women on the blackened ground with hand tools to the fire engine and water tender drivers to the heavy equipment operators to the management teams that direct the fire-fighting efforts to the folks who manage the communications — come from our own local fire districts, from state and federal agencies and from fire departments all across the United States.
Yes, firefighters working this week in northeastern California have come from all over the country with one goal in mind — to protect us. Of course, there are firefighters and equipment from Oregon, Washington and Colorado, but we’ve also noticed firefighters from as far away as Minnesota and Hawaii.
Firefighter crews and teams, as well as management personnel, have come from CalFire, inmate crews from the state prisons, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service.
All our local fire agencies are also involved in fighting these fires, and they play a vital role. They are part of the bigger picture because even those local firefighters who are not working the wildfires provide coverage in their own districts, while state and federal teams that might support them under normal circumstances battle the larger blazes.
While the state and CalFire have their own heavy equipment, fleets of engines, water tenders and aircraft, the federal government frequently contracts with private businesses to provide additional support when needed.
Our regional communications team — Susanville Interagency Fire Center — is a model for multi-agency communication and one of the first of its kind in the county. SIFC handles emergency response dispatches in Lassen County and ensures the right people respond to the right place as quickly as possible.
Staff members from many local, state and federal agencies leave their normal jobs and responsibilities to help when there’s an emergency.
It’s hard to imagine the predicament we’d all face without the firefighters, and it’s time for each and every one of us to stand up for a moment and say thank you to these courageous men and women who selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to protect our property and our lives.
Smoke from California’s fires has been reported as far away as Portland, Ore., and Denver, Colo., and the fire season isn’t even close to over yet.
The Associated Press reported last week that according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, as of Wednesday, Aug. 22, our country has experienced 42,927 wildfires this year that have burned more than 7 million acres.
Weather conditions could lead to a new rash of fires in Southern California this week. Fires on the West Coast also are burning in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Nevada. Sometimes it seems as if the whole world is going up in smoke.
To all of you who will leave our area once the flames subside only to move on to the next hot spot, we cannot possibly say thank you loud enough or long enough.