Firefighters and equipment from Los Angeles and Orange County fire departments, including Santa Monica, were being deployed in northern California today in the battle to knock down 18 wildfires plaguing areas made tinder dry by the drought.
“In addition to the northern California fires, a new fire — the Toro Fire — started burning Sunday afternoon, just north of Ojai in Ventura County,” CalFire spokeswoman Alisha Herring said in a telephone interview. “I don’t have a current estimate on acreage burned in that one, but yesterday it had charred about 75 acres.”
The Los Angeles City Fire Department now has 43 firefighters working up north, said department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart. This includes 12 members deployed as part of command support and 23 firefighters, including a battalion chief, and five engines were sent to the Rocky Fire burning in Lake County, said department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart.
The Rocky fire is the largest of the wildfires currently burning. So far it has burned 60,000 acres and was 12 percent contained as of 8 a.m. today, Herring said.
Eight LAFD firefighters were also assigned as part of a strike team that includes firefighters from Beverly Hills, Culver City and Santa Monica, Stewart added. That strike team was sent to the Six Rivers Complex Fire.
County firefighters have also been deployed on mutual aid assignments up north, although specific details were not immediately available.
One Garden Grove Fire Department engine company has been sent to Eureka to help battle lightning-sparked fires in Six Rivers National Forest and another to the Rocky Fire, said department Capt. Thanh Nguyen.
“Additional firefighters have been called in to ensure that service remains consistent for the city of Garden Grove,” Nguyen said.
One firefighter has been killed. David Ruhl of Rapid City, South Dakota, died Thursday while battling a wildfire in the Modoc National Forest about 100 miles south of Oregon. That fire has burned at least 800 acres.
Ruhl, a U.S. Forest Service firefighter, was driving down a road in a vehicle by himself, scouting the area when the then-small fire suddenly expanded, U.S. Forest Information Officer Ken Sandusky said.
Crews fighting the blaze lost communication with him Thursday evening. His body was recovered on Friday, according to Sandusky.
The news of Ruhl’s death came just hours after Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency requiring all state agencies to provide assistance if needed to respond to the fires. Brown also mobilized the California National Guard to help with disaster response.
“California’s severe drought and extreme weather have turned much of the state into a tinderbox,” Brown said. “Our firefighters are on the front lines and we’ll do everything we can to help them.”