Local Firefighters Attacking So-Cal Blazes

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Resources from Elko and Clark Counties headed south Monday as well.
right, along with strike teams made up of engines and firefighters from nearly every fire station in northern Nevada.

About 130 firefighters total from our state are helping out. The last strike team from our area left around 2:00 p.m. Monday.

Firefighters from Reno, Sparks and North Lake Tahoe packed up their bags with just an hour's notice...three groups becoming one team. They don't know how long they'll be fighting fire in Southern California, but as the blazes grew larger, local firefighters say so did their chances of being called out.

"You kind of prepare ahead of time. At the start of brush season, we usually prepare in our area. This is the end of our season here, but you expect Southern California, this is when they get those Santa Ana conditions," said Captain Mike York of Reno Fire Department.

A program introduced in Nevada last year helps organize the ebb and flow of state-to-state mutual aid assistance.

"We have built a mobilization program where we have accountability for our resources. We know how they are getting there, how they are getting home. Usually the governor is very interested in what resources he has left in his state. We can now tell him," said Kelli Baratti, State Fire Mutual Aid Coordinator.

Coordinators at Nevada's Emergency Operations Center say this is the first time since that program was introduced that Nevada firefighters have been called out-of-state for an emergency of this magnitude.

"California has gotten to a point where they are on draw down and they are needing resources outside of what they can provide to themselves," added Baratti.

Firefighters who embarked on the So-Cal mission say it's a honor to be able to give back to our California neighbors, a sort of "payback" for the help they provide us during our busy fire season...but they say, they still have a job to do.

"California just had some firefighters injured yesterday when this whole thing started. They are in the burn unit now. So you kind of have to think this is not all fun and games. You have to have your wits about you when you're doing this type of thing," said Captain Bill Macaulay of Sparks Fire Department.

Because the Southern California fires are burning in such diverse terrain, our local firefighters brought equipment to fight fire in the forest, the desert or any other type of land they may have to cover.

Emergency officials say they still have plenty of resources in-state...but because of our current bone-dry conditions and a prediction for some warm weather the next few days...they have to be careful about sending too many of our resources.