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MV firefighters help battle NorCal wildfires

The Mountain View Fire Department has stepped up to help with efforts to put out wildfires raging throughout Northern California.

On Sunday, Aug. 3, Mountain View's Engine 152 and two battalion chiefs were sent to Fortuna to cover for fire personnel who were sent to fight the wildfires, said fire department spokeswoman Jamie Garrett. A couple of days later, on Aug. 5, Engine 154 and its crew were sent to Laytonville to help fight the wildfire in that city's area, she said. Both engines include a crew of four firefighters, according to Garrett.

Another battalion chief from the Mountain View fire department was sent to help with the Beaver Fire at Klamath National Forest, she said. The battalion chief is a part of the overhead team that provides expertise in safety, operations, logistics, planning and other issues. As of Wednesday, Aug. 6, the battalion chief was still active at Klamath, Garrett said.

The Mountain View Fire Department employs four battalion chiefs, according to Garrett. In the absence of a battalion chief, a captain within the fire department steps into the role.

Garrett said that the fire department had no additional engines to send to help with the Northern California wildfire effort. If the firefighters are needed over a longer period of time, the fire department could rotate its personnel, according to Garrett.

Mountain View engines were last deployed as part of a strike team to help fight the Rim Fire at Yosemite last year, Garrett said.

As of Aug. 6, Engine 152 was covering a 150-mile spread of fire stations that includes Crescent City, Garberville, Weott and Trinidad, according to Garrett. Engine 154's crew was helping both to provide structure protection for homes in Laytonville and assisting in the effort to contain the wildfire there, she said on Wednesday.

There were 17 wildfires active in Northern California as of Aug. 1, prompting Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency. The declaration authorized the Governor's Office of Emergency Services and State Emergency Plan to direct personnel and resources to the effort of fighting the wildfires.

As of Aug. 6, the number had dropped to 12 active wildfires, according to Garrett.

"This is projected to be a really bad fire season because of the drought," she said.

Mountain View firefighters were deployed as part of the California Master Mutual Aid Agreement, in which the state's department of forestry and fire protection provides all available assistance to other fire departments within the state when necessary. In return, the department can access local fire departments to help put out wildfires.

Garrett said that Mountain View's firefighters are safe and in good condition.

"The firefighters are all in good spirits and healthy," Garrett said.

It's uncertain when they'll come back home; there is no timetable for the return of the Mountain View firefighters or battalion chiefs, Garrett said.

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