Multiple agencies practice determining causes of wildland fires

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In order to prepare for what’s expected to be a busy wildfire season, local, state and federal agencies practiced identifying the origin and cause of wildland fires at an exercise on Thursday at the Humboldt Bay South Spit. 

"It's a prevention measure.  If we don't know the cause of the fire, we can't address what we need to do to prevent those fires from occurring in the future.  So the key is to address the actual cause, to have good information and good data to understand, 'What are we dealing with?  What are the true causes?' So that we can take the appropriate action to mitigate or prevent those fires," said Battalion Chief Jeremy Monroe with CAL FIRE, the Training Instructor of the exercise.

CAL FIRE provided instruction for the exercise. Members of the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, Humboldt Bay Fire and the Ferndale Volunteer Fire Department participated as well. A recently burned area of the South Spit was used for the training, where firefighters practiced identifying evidence and determining the cause of a wildland fire. CAL FIRE officials undergo this training annually, but this exercise is only held locally every few years.  CAL FIRE officials say the training is also about the different agencies practicing working together efficiently.

"You have to take a team approach to investigating fires and information is shared when fire investigations occur with proper resources.  And often agencies will have to assist other agencies and that's a big part of this training, is that we provide our students with a standardized curriculum methodology so when they go investigate fires, we're all doing the same process," Battalion Chief Monroe said.