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Oregon Sending Help To Battle Growing Southern California Fires


Flames from a wildfire advance down a hillside near the Springs of Life Church in Casitas Springs, California, on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. Wind-driven fires tore through California communities Tuesday for the second time in two months, leaving hundreds of homes feared lost and uprooting tens of thousands of people.

Flames from a wildfire advance down a hillside near the Springs of Life Church in Casitas Springs, California, on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. Wind-driven fires tore through California communities Tuesday for the second time in two months, leaving hundreds of homes feared lost and uprooting tens of thousands of people.

Noah Berger/AP

Teams from Multnomah County all the way down to Jackson and Josephine counties are en route to Southern California where a series of fast-moving fires continue to rip through the Los Angeles area. 

The Oregon State Fire Marshal sent 10 strike teams consisting of 50 engines and about 100 personnel overnight Tuesday, making Oregon the first state to send resources to the Golden State for this event.

“Based on what we know, they’ll probably be put to work pretty quickly,” said Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple. “This type of incident, this type of fire behavior that you’re seeing out there is not normal or something that you see in Oregon, and certainly not something California has experienced two times in one fire season.”

Multiple fires have prompted officials to issue evacuation orders for nearly 200,000 people in Southern California and have destroyed nearly 200 homes as of Wednesday. One of the blazes, referred to as the Thomas Fire, has burned 65,000 acres.

The Oregon State Fire Marshal’s office received another request for resources Wednesday morning. Ruiz-Temple says the office is working on preparing five additional strike teams consisting of 25 engines that will head to California. That means about 150 Oregon firefighters will respond to the Southern California fires throughout the day.

The firefighters are heading to a mobilization center in Chino, California where they will be assigned duties by the incident management team in California.

“There’s about three pretty large fires that are down there right now, and we’re seeing additional starts. With the wind coming in, we expect more,” Ruiz-Temple said.

The State Fire Marshal’s office has committed resources for two weeks. Ruiz-Temple says that could be shorter depending on whether firefighters can gain control on the fires in the coming days.

California teams sent assistance to Oregon during the state’s own historic summer of wildfires.

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