April 9, 2019 – CAL FIRE/Placer County Fire Department Chief Brian Estes welcomed 20 National Guard soldiers to the Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit of CAL FIRE at PCFD Atwood Station 180 in Auburn Tuesday April 2nd.
The National Guard Task Force is assigned to assist fire crews on the North Fork American River Fuel Break project (NFARFB). The NFARB Project is one of 35 projects state wide identified as top priorities by CAL FIRE in the 45-day report to Governor Gavin Newsom in response to executive order N-05-19.
The diverse group of National Guard Troops include Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, military police, field artillery specialists, heavy equipment mechanics, and a combat medic.
CAL FIRE Forester II Steve Garcia provided the troops a summary of the project. Chief Garcia outlined the importance of this fuel break in protecting the community of Colfax as well as the vital infrastructure of the Interstate 80 corridor, the Union Pacific rail line and Kinder Morgan pipe line that run through the project area.
Chief Garcia set an expectation of one acre of treatment a day with the potential of 900-acres total. This goal includes two CAL FIRE hand crews in addition to the National Guard Task Force assigned during their one year deployment on the project.
CAL FIRE Division Chief Joe Ten Eyck provided an overview of conditions the troops can expect including steep terrain, dense fuels and hot summer temperatures. Battalion Chiefs Brian Eagan and Jesse Morris reviewed their priorities of safety of the troops and efficient use of their time deployed on the project.
Second Lt. Jonathan Green, from the 115th Regional Support Group, is serving as the officer-in-charge of the Auburn team. “Everyone’s really motivated and excited to be a part of this project,” he said. “We’re forming a tight group. We’re excited to hit the ground, make progress and hopefully prevent future fires from happening.”