150 Arizona firefighters head to California to help with wildfire efforts

Friday, 13 October 2017, 07:57:59 PM. Gov. Doug Ducey: 'We are proud to support our neighboring state ...'

Arizona has deployed relief efforts to lend a hand as the California willdfires continue to spread and endanger communities.

Arizona has been able to deploy fire equipment and personnel to California through a state-to-state mutual-aid compact, which are agreements where states provide assistance to each other when major fires burn. 
 
“Arizona understands the devastating impact wildfires can have on communities,” said Gov. Doug Ducey in a statement. 

“We are proud to support our neighboring state with vital response resources to enhance fire suppression efforts. Our unwavering gratitude is with the brave men and women fighting these fires.”

 

 

 

The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management sent 55 engines and 150 firefighters to assist with the fires in Santa Rosa and Napa County, California. All will be used as strike teams to protect structures in the area. 

Arizona State Forester Jeff Whitney said Arizona is always ready to lend a hand whenever it is needed. 
 
"This has been a devastating fire season for many states, including Arizona, so of course, we will do whatever we can to help," Whitney said. 

He said Arizona will provide as much equipment and fire personnel, as possible, to help California with itsfire-suppression efforts.

The Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, or DEMA, is Arizona’s lead agency for processing resource requests through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. 

Wendy Smith-Reeve, deputy director of DEMA, said the mutual-aid system allows the exact need to be matched with the corresponding resource. 
 
“We are able to support the impacted communities and jurisdictions and bring back lessons learned from the experience,” she said. 

Since 2006, DEMA has coordinated more than 30 mutual-aid mission requests to 17 states. During the 2017 hurricane season, resources were deployed to Texas, Florida, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.  

Nolan Koch, firefighter with engine 121 from Picture Rocks Fire and Medical District in Tucson, said his unit was on its way to the fires on Thursday.

His team is made up of four firefighters now, but they won't know their task until they make it to the base camp. 

"So far, it's just our engine heading up," Koch said. 

He said although his unit works closely with the Department of Forestry and Fire Management, they are separate from those teams also heading to California. 

"Wildland assignments are so hard to judge, but we always expect and pack bags for two weeks," Koch said. "Could be two weeks or a month, whatever is needed to get the job done."

Sheriff Steven Durfor said early Thursday that the death toll increased after two people died in Yuba County.

Thursday night the death toll rose to 31 statewide. Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano said two more people have been confirmed dead. 

The death toll includes 16 fatalities in Sonoma County, two in Napa County, six in Mendocino County and four in Yuba County.

Giordano said hundreds of people were still reported missing, although officials believe many of those — almost 400 — will be found.

The sheriff also expects the death toll to climb. “The devastation is enormous,” he said. “We can’t even get into most areas.”

Since Sunday, when wildfires broke out north of San Francisco, about 3,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed. 

Red-flag warnings, which forecast dangerous fire conditions, were already in effect for much of Northern California, including the Bay Area, and have been extended from Big Sur to the Santa Cruz Mountains.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has issued emergency declarations for Napa, Sonoma, Yuba, Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Nevada, Orange and Solano counties.

According to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport's delayed, canceled and diverted flight information site, five flights have been canceled on Thursday to or from Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport near Santa Rosa. 

Four flights to and from Schulz Airport on Wednesday were also canceled (two arriving and two departing). These are all American Airlines flights.

One arriving and one departing United Airlines flights to and from San Francisco were canceled Thursday.

USA TODAY NETWORK contributed to this article.

 

 

 

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Article 150 Arizona firefighters head to California to help with wildfire efforts compiled by www.azcentral.com