Pendleton Fire Fighters head to California to help with wildfires

Pendleton fire fighters also went to California in October to help with wildfires. (Photo: Pendleton Fire and Ambulance).

More than 83,000 acres are burning in several fires in Southern California, and California fire crews are asking for help from neighboring states.

CalFire initially asked Oregon for 10 strike teams, made up of 5 fire vehicles and 10 – 20 crew members, then asked for 5 more Wednesday morning.

Four fire fighters from the Pendleton Fire Department joined up with crews from other Eastern Oregon agencies to make up a strike team. They were packed up and on the road by 8:00 am Wednesday morning, within about two hours of getting the call.

“Our personnel are always encouraged to have their bags packed and ready to go,” says Mike Ciraulo, Fire Chief with the Pendleton Fire Department. “Each individual has to be self-sufficient the entire time they’re down there, and that could be for up to 21 days.”

While in California, the fire crews aren’t going to get a lot of down time. According to the Oregon Fire Marshal’s office, the team members can expect to work 12 to 24 hour shifts as they relieve fire crews who have been on the front lines since Sunday night.

“They will be doing everything from structural triage to structural fire protection, ” said Rich Hoover Public Information Officer for the Fire Marshal’s office. “In some cases they may even be even fighting some of the wildfire near hose structures.

So far, nearly 200 structures have been lost in theses most recent fires.