BEND, OR -- Central Oregon firefighters are on their way to Northern California to help battle devastating wildfires that have led to the deaths of at least 17 people. Deschutes and Klamath counties are sending a strike team of Type 3 heavy brush engines, including units from Sisters-Camp Sherman, Bend and Sunriver. Four Oregon Department of Forestry crews from Grants Pass, Klamath Falls and Medford arrived in California yesterday, as well.
California’s Governor has declared a state of emergency in three counties, due to the more than a dozen wind-driven fires, which have destroyed over 2,000 buildings.
Bend Batallion Chief Dave Howe released the following statement, Wednesday morning:
The Bend Fire Department has joined several other Central Oregon fire departments in sending crews to help in the battle against the disastrous California wildland fires. Crews from Bend, Sisters, Sunriver and Klamath Falls have been assigned as a Strike Team to work in Santa Rosa, CA, for at least a week, although the duration is dependent upon fire conditions and funding.
Although California has a very strong statewide emergency mobilization plan, which has always worked well, the fire situation is so dire that they are asking for help from Oregon and Arizona. CalFire has requested that the Oregon State Fire Marshal send up to 50 engines to California. Oregon is responding to this request with 10 Strike Teams, each team made up of a specific engine type and a leader. California is paying for this mobilization at the rate specified in the Oregon Mobilization Plan.
Bend is supplying one Type 3 Engine and a Leader, with a total of 6 people. This is the first time that Bend Fire has been mobilized to work on fires in California.
The National Weather Service reports wind patterns will continue to send smoke into Central Oregon from the Napa Valley fires, through Wednesday evening. According to the Forest Service, the haze that blanketed our area yesterday is from California and not from any local fires or burning operations. Bend Fire asks that people not call 911 regarding the smoke unless you see a specific smoke column or flames.
Photos: (top) Cal Fire shows the dozens of fires burning across the state.
(right) Weather patterns will continue to send smoke into Oregon.