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El Cerrito Firefighters Battle Wildfire Near Clearlake

A strike team of half a dozen El Cerrito firefighters have been deployed to battle the Wye and Walker fires about 50 miles north in Lake and Colusa Counties as wildfires across the west burn in what could become one of the worst fire seasons on record.

A strike team of six El Cerrito firefighters has been sent to help man the wildfire lines about 50 miles north of the city near Clearlake, according to the El Cerrito fire department.

The Wye and Walker fires in Lake and Colusa counties had burned about 7,000 acres as of 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and were 60 percent contained, according to Cal Fire, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

A request for the team was issued at 5 a.m. Monday, following the Wye Fire's outbreak and quick spread late Sunday, according to El Cerrito fire Battalion Chief John Dugery. They were still there late Tuesday, according to City Manager Scott Hanin.

The deployment comes as wildfires spread havoc across the western United States.

"We may be headed to the worst summer ever for wildfires," said the opening line for a CBS news segment Tuesday night on growing western wildfires.

The El Cerrito strike team members include Captain Larry Carr, Engineer/Paramedic Travis Crumpacker, Engineer/Paramedic Pete Benson, and Firefighter/Paramedic Damien Carrion in Engine 372, Dougery said. Also responding are Battalion Chief Mike Pigoni as strike team leader trainee with Shawn Perkins as strike team leader.

A five-member strike team from El Cerrito was dispatched to the Robber Fire in Foresthill, battling the blaze 12 hours a day from July 12-17, according to memo from Public Works Director Jerry Bradshaw, serving as acting city manager in Hanin's absence earlier this month. That team included Captain Jarl Grunseth, Captain/Paramedic Rune Hoyer-Nielsen, Engineer/Paramedic David Cesmat and Firefighter Joe Gruppalo on Engine 372, along with Battalion Chief David Gibson as strike team leader.

Another El Cerrito firefighter was sent for more than two weeks to fight three fires in Colorado in late June and July. Captain/Paramedic Kevin Janes was dispatched as a communication technician on June 25 and didn't return until July 12, "very happy to be back in El Cerrito," Bradshaw said. 

"Dry conditions continue to dominate the weather forecast through out the region with little relief expected anytime soon," Dougery said.

Denise Sangster August 15, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Glad El Cerrito's finest are able to lend a hand in Lake County!
Paul D August 15, 2012 at 07:50 PM
As an ex-resident of Clearlake Park, the conditions up there in August are brutal -- even if you're sitting under a tree. 100+ heat and 7-10% humidity are nothing to ignore. Thats hard work those folks are doing.

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