USDA Forest Service Supports California Fire Suppression Efforts
WASHINGTON, November 14, 2018—The USDA Forest Service is supporting fire suppression efforts in California, where two massive wildfires burn at opposite ends of the state. Both fires started on November 8.
“The people of California are in need of our support,” said James Hubbard, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment. “USDA’s Forest Service firefighters and law enforcement are standing shoulder to shoulder with our citizens, state and local partners to help communities recover and stop the devastation.”
At 135,000 acres in size, the Camp Fire in the north started along the edge of the Plumas National Forest within the State Response Area. In just a week, the fire has devastated the town of Paradise in Butte County, where more than 7,600 structures have been destroyed, and multiple fatalities have been reported. An additional 17,500 structures, along with major power, transportation, and communications infrastructure, continue to be threatened. Another 8,876 acres have burned on private timber lands and Plumas National Forest. At only 35% containment, the fire shows little sign of slowing down.
“Firefighters and law enforcement from the city, county, state, and Federal levels are proving their tenacity and resolve in answering their call to service. We owe them our gratitude,” said Hubbard.
The Forest Service is in unified command with CALFIRE, the Butte County Sheriff Department, and the Paradise Police Department by providing 485 personnel, including five crews, three helicopters, 66 engines, and two bulldozers.
The Forest Service is also supporting the Butte County Sheriff’s Department by providing 26 Law Enforcement Investigators (LEIs) to help respond to a backlog of 911 calls. LEIs are also conducting welfare checks of citizens unaccounted for and assisting with mandatory evacuations.
To the south, the Woolsey Fire is burning in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties. The fire has already burned 97,620 acres, including 83 percent of all National Parks Service land in the Santa Monica Mountains. To date, the fire has claimed more than 450 structures and continues to threaten an additional 57,000 structures.
The Woolsey Fire is 47 percent contained by a team lead by CAL FIRE, the Ventura County Fire Dept., Ventura County Sheriff Dept., Los Angeles County Fire Dept., Los Angeles County Sheriff Dept., and the National Park Service. The USDA Forest Service has also provided 174 personnel to assist, including three crews and 20 engines.
The cause of both fires is still under investigation.