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BEND, OR -- Local fire agencies are sending help to southern California, to help with the massive wildfire burning in Ventura County. Bend Battalion Chief Dave Howe says Cal-Fire requested additional help from the Oregon Fire Marshal’s office. "They requested 10 task forces from Oregon last night and those were filled by departments in the Valley. Early this morning [Wednesday] they had another request from California so they found that Deschutes County had some availability. Bend is sending a Task Force for a Type-Three engine, which is like a four-wheel-drive brush rig." Howe says five Bend firefighters left Wednesday, including one driving a Sisters engine; Redmond is also sending a unit.

 

High winds have pushed the blaze to over 65,000 acres, as of Wednesday morning. Howe tells KBND News, "We know that the Santa Ana winds are going to be kicking up again, and I’ve heard reports of gusting to 70 mph. They’re going to be in some extreme, extreme weather conditions." Rich Hoover, in the Oregon Fire Marshal's Office, says 15 Oregon crews are on the way to help and they're prepared to work as wildland or structural firefighters. "They’re going to stage in Chino, California and from there they’ll be split up and divided to the areas that they need to go to," says Hoover. This is the first time Oregon crews have helped California twice in one year.

 

According to Howe, local crews could be gone through Christmas, "We do know they could be there 14-21 days, which is a tremendously long period of time around Christmas." He adds, "We have plenty of people who are willing to step up, at least if not going to California, then covering these guys when they’re gone. We really do rely on their support and we really rely on the support of the community."

 

 

Photo: Courtesy Bend Fire. Crews prepare to leave Bend for southern California. 

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