VENETA, Ore. – As fires continue raging through California, dozens of Oregon fire crews are making their way south to help with containment efforts.
The wildfires have caused more than 100,000 evacuations, according to Lane Fire Authority’s Fire Chief, Terry Ney.
He said there are currently 75 strike teams from Oregon on the ground in California.
“We’re providing a tremendous amount of resources, but this is a sort of payback. California sent a lot of resources to the Chetco Bar Fire in Brookings,” Ney said. “This is paying back some of that and maybe paying forward for the next time.”
Ney said the first crew was dispatched Tuesday night and was on the road for nearly 18 hours. When they arrived in southern California, they helped put out spot fires in Ventura County.
Once the fires were contained in that area, they were then sent to Escondido, an area north of San Diego to help protect residential structures.
Ney said when winds reach 50 to 60 miles an hour it creates spot fires ahead of the main fire, making it even more difficult to contain the fire.
“They’re expecting these wind conditions to die down over the weekend,” he said. “The hope is that they can make really good progress today and tomorrow.”
He said it is unusual for fires to be burning like this in December. He said it is likely the combination of weather and fuel conditions that created the perfect environment to spark the fires.
Ney said fire crews are expected to be back home just in time for Christmas. They are expected to be released December 20th and drive back the next day.
However, he said those plans are subject to change if the fire conditions don’t improve.