LOS ANGELES – With Santa Ana winds predicted to continuing gusting through the weekend, firefighters are arriving from across much of the western U.S. to provide much-needed relief to Southern California agencies.
Strike teams have arrived from Nevada, New Mexico, Montana, Utah and Idaho, according to Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. Colorado is also sending crews, outlets in that state reported.
Firefighters have also come to the region from Northern California, where deadly and massive wildfires devastated Santa Rosa and the surrounding wine country in October.
Los Angeles firefighters were sent north to assist in that response, and now agencies from that region have responded down here, Ghilarducci said at a Thursday morning news conference on the 475-acre Skirball Fire in L.A.’s Bel-Air neighborhood.
“Neighbor helping neighbor, everyone is supporting each other,” Ghilarducci said.
Strike teams from other states are staged to deal with additional problems that may arise from the continuing Santa Ana winds, which are expected to calm by Sunday.
Some 1,200 National Guard troops have also been pre-positioned within the Los Angeles Basin, and they’re accompanied by federal firefighting aircrafts, Ghilarducci said.
Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott said lots of resources have been deployed to the region, including to cover fire stations. More than 5,000 firefighters are responding to Southern California blazes, a Cal Fire spokesman said.
“We have a system in place and it’s working,” Pimlott said.
On Wednesday, as Los Angeles firefighters worked on the Skirball Fire and the Creek Fire on the city's other side, LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas said crews were exhausted. Some firefighters had been deployed since Sunday, he said.
"Our people are tired," Terrazas said.
Crews found some relief Thursday with the arrival of more resources and a "fresh platoon" from LAFD, the chief said late Thursday morning.
“We’re not done; we’re in the middle of this event," Terrazas said.
Authorities repeated their mantra that those in fire-prone areas be “ready, set, go,” and heed evacuation orders. The red flag warning has been extended until 8 p.m. Saturday.