Wednesday, August 01, 2018

California blazes tax budgets, firefighters: ‘Fatigue is starting to set in’

California’s firefighters are stretched as thin as they have ever been, state officials said Tuesday, with no indication that the wave of fires scorching the Golden State will ease in the coming months. It used to be that the fire season picked up at the end of August and ran through October. That changed with the state’s five-year drought, and this year’s outbreak in July has officials worried about firefighter fatigue. It was an unprecedented month for fires, both in the number of acres burned and the cost of fielding crews to douse the flames. It was also a tragic month for firefighters. Four died while battling blazes, two on the Ferguson Fire near Yosemite National Park and two on the Carr Fire as it threatened Redding. “Unfortunately, no one is going home,” said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. “There is no rest. ... We are literally moving firefighters and personnel from one fire to another, and will continue to do so until the threat is mitigated.” Cal Fire has had to tap agencies in 12 other states to help build the force of 10,500 firefighters who are on the lines fighting the largest fires. State officials even persuaded Australia and New Zealand to send firefighters. And Ghilarducci said his office is considering asking the Pentagon to deploy ground troops from the Marines or Army who can help clear brush to stop fires from spreading. “We have fire literally from one end of the state to the other, and we have weather conditions that are making this an even more dynamic situation,” Ghilarducci said. “We have to get resources to the right place at the right time. It’s like a chess board.”...MORE

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