Local fire crews on 7-day rotation to assist other agencies


HUMBOLDT COUNTY, Calif. (KIEM)-With a very busy fire season in progress coupled by already taxed resources local firefighters are sent to back-up their peers, fighting the  river fire near salinas. 

 Humboldt Bay Fire’s engine 8136 and a crew of three headed out to Monterey County on a strike team eight days ago- Monday the crew returned – the engine however, stayed behind.

“We worked several days in a row without relief due to the resources stretched thin throughout the state,” said.  

Capt. Bret Banducci, Acting Operator and Paramedic Brandon Harlander and Firefighter Wyatt Esola are back after 7 days of working multiple 24-hour shifts.  

“That night, when we drove by prior to going to base camp we could see miles of fire edge-coming down into a housing development,” he said.  

A fresh three-person crew has now taken over – that trio will work alongside crews working the River Fire – for a week, then a fresh group will continue the rotation until that fire is extinguished. 

“That is also part of the Carmel Fire, those two fires have joined together into one Complex, and we were part of the River Fire,” said Banducci. 

“We have received the most lighting strikes since we have recorded, as far back as 1987, we’ve burned over 1.2 million in acres and over 240,000 people evacuated,” said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Paul Savano, who works with the Humboldt Del Norte Unit.  

He says, even though local departments have lent personnel and equipment to support other agencies – local communities are still covered in emergencies.  

“So we take resources from across the state and move them into that area, and then back fill with other agencies and respond to calls as we normally would,” said Savano.  

“It’s important to serve, not only our community but also the state,” said Acting Operator and Paramedic for Humboldt Bay Fire Brandon Harlander.  

And around the state – weather and soil conditions, and vegetation change by region, which can make it challenging for our local crew.  

“We just don’t see it, because of Eureka where we live we don’t see a lot of the big land fires,” according to Harlander. 

“So when out cruise leave Humboldt County we expect to go from 60 degrees to 100 degrees and we need to make sure we’re ready for that.”