Local firefighters help battle California blaze

  • Written by Bob Kirkpatrick
John Deaver, Hugh Moag and Cody Barwell take a much-needed break. BFD photo.


SONOMA, Calif. — After a week of hard work, Bothell firefighters John Deaver, Cody Barwell, and Hugh Moag are on their way home.

The guys were among 16 other members of the Wildland Engine Strike Team, which included personnel from Eastside Fire and Rescue and the Duvall Fire Department that were deployed Monday morning Oct. 28 to Sonoma, Calif. to help battle the Kincade fire.

The blaze ignited on Oct. 24 and rapidly spread across 75,415 acres and as of Oct. 29 was just 15 percent contained.

Niki Strachila, PIO with the Bothell Fire Department said all of the firefighters deployed were “red card” certified, meaning they have been trained specifically in wildland firefighting, which is very different from traditional structural firefighting. She added crews most likely worked 12- to 24-hour shifts.

A total of seven task forces from 31 departments from Washington state were deployed to help fight the blaze.

Winds gusting up to 70 mph made it difficult to contain the fire and kept firefighters on high alert.

“Winds are extremely dangerous and unpredictable. When there are high winds, advanced safety measures are put into place,” Strachila said. "Firefighters will work to get in front of the fire.

“A common tactic used with high winds is the indirect attack method. A direct attack is too dangerous. Firefighters will use very large natural barriers such as eight-lane highways, lakes, even oceans or create very large barriers to help contain the fire.”

The goal behind barriers Strachila said is to ultimately take away the fire’s fuel source.

“A fire needs three things to ignite—heat, fuel, and oxygen. Local firefighters help battle California blaze Take away any of these three elements and it will extinguish.”

As of Monday, November 4, containment had reached 80 percent. The fire consumed over 78,000 acres, and 374 structures including 174 homes. No fatalities have been reported. Fire officials don’t expect to fully contain the blaze until November 7.

A statement from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said California has received a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to recover 75 percent of the eligible costs of fighting the Kincade Fire.

The grant will ensure the availability of resources and enable local, state and tribal agencies to receive reimbursement for fire suppression costs.

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