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AUBURN, Calif. December 6, 2017 – Exactly one month ago, Cal Fire’s Nevada-Yuba-Placer (NEU) unit, together with most of Northern California units, transitioned out of peak fire season. Today, the unit rehired seasonal firefighters and sent additional strike teams to Southern California to the existing blazes and preposition engines for any new fires.
As of this evening, the Thomas Fire in Ventura County has burned 90,000 acres and is 5% contained. The Creek Fire in Los Angeles County at 12,605 acres and 5% contained, the Rye Fire in Santa Clarita is at 7,000 acres and also 5% contained. Over 4,000 firefighters are assigned to these fires and additional resources are en route.
The NEU headquarters in Auburn were busy with firefighters checking their gear and fire engines being readied for departure. The seasonal firefighters will be deployed for up to 21 days, after which they will likely be laid off – unless this unusual fire season continues. The additional resources allow for full station coverage in the unit and sending help to SoCal.
Local strike teams departed yesterday, reinforcing and providing relief for the initial attack personnel. All fire stations within Nevada, Yuba and Placer counties are staffed and covered.
The Grass Valley Emergency Command Center (ECC) is responsible for dispatching resources throughout the unit and send strike teams to out of the unit assignments. In 2017, the ECC has sent out strike teams during 11 months, a record. A strike teams is defined as a team of generally 5 same kind resources with one designated leader. Charlie Strike Teams are engines, Golf Strike Teams are crews and Lima Strike Teams are dozer teams. [See our Explainer on Fire Talk]
Meanwhile, Search & Rescue teams were wrapping up their search for Yin Wong, the missing woman from Sacramento. The search was coordinated from the NEU headquarter where people, search dogs and helicopters spent days looking and ultimately locating her. Placer County Sheriff’s office released a statement saying “Searchers located the body of a woman in the American River canyon near Auburn this afternoon. It is suspected that it’s the body of missing Sacramento woman Yin Wong, but her identity has not yet been confirmed. We would like to thank the hundreds of searchers, many of them volunteers, who gave their time to assist us. The identity and cause of death will be determined by autopsy. No foul play is suspected.”
Extreme Fire Weather Forecast
The weather forecast for Southern California is showing a never before used purple warning to indicate the severity of critical fire weather. Generally, a Red Flag Warning is the highest warning – for the first time ever, the Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index (SAWTI) shows purple for a wide swath from San Diego to Ventura. “The fire potential with this Santa Ana event is Extreme. Easterly winds of 20-45 mph can be expected with gusts exceeding 80 mph over the higher terrain and in the more wind prone areas. Humidity will be in the 5-15% range. Fires will spread very rapidly through all fuel types. Any new fires will have a high probability of becoming large in a short period of time.“