EUGENE, Ore. – The Office of the State Fire Marshal said Saturday progress is being made on a large complex of fires burning in northern California, thanks in part to help provided by Oregon firefighters.
“Crews in California [are] at a real resource shortage right now,” said Claire McGrew, assistant chief deputy with the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal.
McGrew, who is stationed alongside firefighters in Napa, said five task forces from across Oregon have been deployed to assist Cal Fire with the LNU Lightning Complex, which is burning across five counties in California’s wine country.
The complex has burned more than 370,000 thousand acres, and according to McGrew, more than 1,000 structures.
McGrew said significant progress has been made on the fire line in just the last day or two.
“Yesterday was a really good day,” McGrew said.
California officials report the fire has reached 41% containment, and McGrew said crews from Lane County have recently received assignments involving back burning, a form of controlled burns.
“Their entire job is to make sure that area burns correctly, appropriately and thoroughly to make sure that is not going to create a risk later,” McGrew said.
The Lane County Task Force, made up of about 20 personnel from seven fire departments, left for California the morning of August 20.
While their primary concern is fire operations, McGrew said crews have also interacted with local residents, who have welcomed them with open arms
“They’ve done a great job about being kind and collaborative to these local community members,” McGrew said.
McGrew said crews are on a two-week deployment, and expected to wrap up on September 2. It’s still undetermined whether Oregon crews will be called back to California again later this summer.