Twenty-two firefighters from Linn and Benton counties arrived in Santa Rosa, California, Wednesday afternoon and will battle fires that have destroyed some 2,000 homes and caused at least 23 deaths.
Albany Fire Chief John Bradner said the local firefighters composed one of 10 strike teams that answered a call for assistance put out by the state of California. Some 22 fires are burning in the Napa Valley and other fires are burning in southern California.
“California asked for 50 engines each from Oregon and Arizona,” he said. “Locally, we sent five Type I engines and Oregon made its 50 unit commitment. They are not in good shape down there.”
Bradner said the local strike team left the mid-valley about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday and arrived in the Napa Valley early Wednesday afternoon.
“The Type 1 engines are city-type vehicles,” he said. “It is likely they will be protecting neighborhoods and subdivisions, not going off road with these vehicles.”
Bradner said the strike team could be deployed for up to two weeks.
He added that California firefighters assisted Oregon a month ago when fire season was in full force — including the 140,000-acre Chetco fire in southern Oregon — and Oregon is reciprocating.
The local task force is composed of firefighters and equipment from the Sweet Home Fire & Ambulance District, Lebanon Fire District, Albany Fire Department, Philomath Fire and Rescue and Corvallis Fire Department.
Two teams are from Lane County, plus teams from Washington County, Multnomah County, Marion County, Clatsop County, Jackson/Josephine counties, Yamhill County, and Klamath/Deschutes counties.
California made the request through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact a national state to state mutual aid system. The EMAC request is sent directly to Oregon Emergency Management who contact and coordinate with the appropriate Oregon agency to fulfill the requests.